New Research Reveals Risk to Kidneys During Long-Duration Space Travel


2024-07-03 14:15:40



A new study raises concerns about the long-term effects of space travel on astronaut health, particularly the kidneys. Researchers at University College London (UCL) analyzed data from over 40 space missions involving humans and mice. Their findings revealed that microgravity conditions in space remodel the kidneys, with specific parts showing shrinkage after just one month.

This raises concerns for the feasibility of future missions to Mars, which could take astronauts away from Earth for years. While the study doesn't rule out such missions entirely, it emphasizes the need for developing measures to protect astronauts' kidneys. These could include preventative strategies to minimize damage and potential recovery methods like onboard dialysis machines.

"We've observed an increase in kidney-related health issues, like kidney stones, in astronauts on shorter missions," said Dr. Keith Siew, the study's lead author from the UCL Department of Renal Medicine. "The big unknown is how these issues will manifest during longer journeys like a Mars mission. If we don't find ways to protect their kidneys, astronauts might need dialysis during the return trip."

The study highlights the importance of considering kidney health during space mission planning. While galactic radiation is difficult to shield against, researchers believe advancements in understanding kidney biology could lead to the development of technological or pharmaceutical solutions for mitigating risks associated with extended space travel.

The detailed findings of this research were published in the journal Nature Communications.