World’s First Study Reveals Space Travel Causes Anemia

KOMPAS.com – The world’s first study reveals that travel outer space turned out to have an effect on reducing the number of red blood cells.

This condition is known as anemia outer space.

Citing Phys, Sunday (16/1/2022) the conclusion was obtained after researchers conducted an analysis of 14 astronaut.

Anemia Outer space has consistently been reported when astronauts have returned to Earth since the first space missions. But we don’t know why,” said Dr. Guy Trudel, lead author and rehabilitation physician at The Ottawa Hospital.

Also read: High-Speed ​​Space Junk Makes Astronauts Fail Spacewalk

His study showed that upon arrival in space, the astronaut’s body destroys 54 more red blood cells than on Earth. And this continues throughout the astronaut mission.

Prior to this study, space anemia was thought to be a rapid adaptation to the fluid that migrates to the upper body when astronauts first arrive in space.

Astronaut lose 10 percent of the fluid in their veins this way.

In the process of moving the fluid, it is estimated that astronauts rapidly destroy 10 percent of their blood cells to restore balance. Red blood cell control then returned to normal after 10 days in space.

But in the new study, the research team found that the destruction of red blood cells is the main effect of being in space. Not only caused by fluid transfer.

On Earth, our bodies make and destroy 2 million red blood cells every second. And while in space, researchers found that astronauts destroyed 54 percent more red blood cells during their six months there, or 3 million per second.

These results apply to both female and male astronauts.

In this study, researchers used techniques and methods developed to accurately measure the destruction of red blood cells. This method was later adapted to collect samples at the Station Outer Space International.

But fortunately, this decrease in the number of red blood cells does not affect the health of the astronauts while in space. Otherwise, the astronauts could end up with severe anemia.

“Having fewer red blood cells in space isn’t a problem when your body is weightless. But the effects of anemia are felt once you land and have to face gravity again,” explains Dr. Trudel.

Also read: Long Stay in Space Can Cause Visual Impairment

The finding that space travel increases the destruction of red blood cells itself has several implications.

First, support the screening of astronauts or space tourists for health conditions affected by anemia.

Second, the study found that the longer the space mission, the worse the anemia. That means, it could have an impact on long missions like to Mars.

Third, increased production of red blood cells will require a diet tailored for astronauts.

Also read: Astronauts Celebrate First Chili Harvest on International Space Station

“If we can figure out exactly what causes this anemia, then there is potential to treat or prevent it, for both astronauts and patients here on Earth,” said Dr. Trudel.

Furthermore, this finding is the best description of the control of red blood cells in space and after returning to Earth.

“This finding is spectacular, considering that this measurement has never been done before,” added Dr. Trudel.

Study published in Nature Medicine.

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