Humans going to space may have higher leukaemia risk as their bodies encounter with dangerous radiation during the deep space travel. This has been revealed by a new study over traveling to Mars.
This has been conducted by scientists who are studying how a three-year space flight to Mars may affect astronauts. Researchers from NASA are using human stem cells to measure the effects of deep space radiation.
“Our results are troubling because they show radiation exposure could potentially increase the risk of leukemia in two ways,” said Christopher Porada, associate professor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in the US.
The average distance to the red planet is 140 million miles, and a round trip could take three years. The goal of the study was to assess the direct effects of simulated solar energetic particles (SEP) and galactic cosmic ray (GCR) radiation on human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).
These stem cells comprise less than 0.1 per cent of the bone marrow of adults, but produce the many types of blood cells that circulate through the body and work to transport oxygen, fight infection, and eliminate any malignant cells that arise.
“Radiation exposure at these levels was highly deleterious to HSC function, reducing their ability to produce almost all types of blood cells, often by 60-80 per cent,” said Porada.
“This could translate into a severely weakened immune system and anaemia during prolonged missions in deep space,” he said.