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Long time space flights can cause brain damage

Long periods of time spent in space, according to research, can induce major alterations in the brain and central nervous system.

According to recent research published in JAMA Neurology, spending a long amount of time in space may increase the presence of biomarkers linked to brain damage.

Blood samples were taken from five male cosmonauts at various stages before and during their roughly six-month missions to the International Space Station by researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biomedical Problems.
Three of the five brain injury signs they tracked in these blood samples considerably increased when the astronauts came home.

As stated by Dr. Cheryl Wellington, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Wellington was not a participant in this study, “What this finding is letting us know is that that space flight might be having similar effects on the brain as another sort of insults to the head.”

The brain is affected by microgravity
Long periods of time spent in space produce major changes to the brain and central nervous system, including the location of the brain in the skull, tissue volume, and the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, according to a study published on media in February.

What is the cause of the problem?
Microgravity, or the exposure of the human body to little gravity aboard the space station, is thought to be the cause of much of this harm. Fluid redistribution is hypothesized to occur in microgravity, putting stress on the delicate cerebral structures and processes that maintain our brains healthy.

While the further study on a larger group of astronauts is needed to assess the long-term effects of space flight and microgravity exposure, Wellington believes this is a significant step forward in safeguarding astronauts’ health.

According to Wellington, “What’s really promising about this kind of test approach is that often when we look at brain health, we need to do things like an MRI or really complex analyses.”

She added, “And you really cannot put an MRI machine into space… Eventually, an astronaut might be able to prick their finger and test these biomarkers while they’re in space and monitor how they’re doing more in real-time compared to just pre-and post-flight.”

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