Astronauts’ blood shows signs of DNA mutation due to spaceflight & ‘may have a cancer risk,’ shock new study reveals

By | 09/09/2022

Astronauts’ blood shows signs of DNA mutations due to spaceflight

space shuttle landing in the desert with a chase plane in front

Short-duration space shuttle missions may have put its astronauts at a higher adventure for cancer, a new study concludes.
(Paradigm credit: NASA)

Astronaut cancer risk needs careful monitoring, concludes a study that stored spaceflyer blood for 20 years.

All fourteen astronauts in the study, from NASA’s space shuttle program, had DNA mutations in claret-forming stem cells, a Nature Communications Biology study
(opens in new tab)

Aug. 31 concluded. The mutations, though unusually high considering the astronauts’ age, was below a key threshold of concern, withal.

While the report is unique for keeping astronaut blood around for so long, the results are non evidence-stopping. Rather, the researchers suggest that astronauts should exist bailiwick to periodic blood screening to keep an eye on possible mutations. (And information technology should exist considered in context; another 2019 study, for example, found that astronauts are not dying from cancer due to ionizing infinite radiation.)


The concluding voyage of NASA’southward space shuttle: Looking back at Atlantis’ final mission 10 years later

Monitoring programs will nevertheless be crucial as NASA reaches for long-duration deep space missions through its Artemis plan on the moon and later on, human excursions to Mars, the new study team said in a argument
(opens in new tab)
. (The new study and the 2019 cancer written report both largely considered short-duration mission astronauts.)

The team decided to pursue the new study in calorie-free of “the growing interest in both commercial spaceflights and deep space exploration, and the potential health risks of exposure to various harmful factors that are associated with repeated or long-elapsing exploration space missions,” study atomic number 82 author Dr. David Goukassian and cardiology professor at Icahn Mount Sinai said in the argument.

NASA recently inverse its lifetime radiation requirements for astronauts that critics said were discriminating against women, who historically had lower limits than male astronauts. (To appointment, other genders have not been disclosed in the agency population.)

A back stop view of a infinite shuttle launching into space. Radiation risks for astronauts on these short-duration missions is still beingness studied.

(Image credit: NASA)

(opens in new tab)

The researchers constitute a higher frequency of somatic mutations in the genes of the xiv astronauts considered in the written report, relative to statistics for the population who has been to space.

The infinite cohort flew between 1998 and 2001 on shuttle missions of an average of 12 days. Roughly 85 per centum of the group was male, and vi of the astronauts were on their commencement mission.

Researchers collected whole blood samples from the astronauts twice, exactly 10 days before spaceflight and on the twenty-four hours of landing. White claret cells were collected once, three days after landing. The claret samples were then left untouched in a freezer for 20 years, chilling at minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit (minus lxxx degrees Celsius.)

The somatic mutations seen in the genes was less than two percent, even so. Those individuals who breach that threshold face more hazard in developing cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, the argument said.

“The presence of these mutations does not necessarily mean that the astronauts will develop cardiovascular disease or cancer, but there is the gamble that, over time, this could happen through ongoing and prolonged exposure to the extreme surround of deep space,” Goukassian added.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter

(opens in new tab)

. Follow u.s.a. on Twitter

(opens in new tab)


(opens in new tab)


Bring together our Space Forums to keep talking infinite on the latest missions, night sky and more than! And if yous have a news tip, correction or comment, allow us know at:

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for
(opens in new tab)

for 10 years earlier that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to assistance others explore the universe. Elizabeth’southward on-site reporting includes ii human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, 3 infinite shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and Chiliad.Sc. in Infinite Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada’s Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth beginning got interested in space afterward watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and nevertheless wants to be an astronaut someday.