A study looking into the negative effects of space flight uncovered a striking finding as to how microgravity influences the health of astronauts, particularly their bones.
17 astronauts, who had been on board the International Space Station (ISS), were the subject of the study, comprising 14 males and three females, averaging 47 years old, and whose missions outside of Earth often lasted between four and seven months, though averaging roughly five and a half months.
In the study, it found that a year after the astronaut went back to Earth, they manifested a loss of an average of 2.1 percent in their tibia’s bone mineral density—the thicker of the two leg bones—as well as a significant 1.3 percent reduction of bone strength.
A more staggering result was found showing nine out of the 17 participants were not able to recover their bone mineral density loss after a long trip in the space, suggesting permanent loss.
University of Calgary Professor Leigh Gabel, who is also an exercise scientist and lead author of the study, published her research in the Scientific Reports comparing the detrimental effect as equivalent to the same loss of over two decades on Earth among adults.