Microgravity Induces Irreversible Damage to Bone Strength and Density, Says New Study

In order to determine if bone recovers after "long-duration" spaceflight

researchers from the University of Calgary and other institutions have tracked 17 astronauts working on the International Space Station before and after their space missions for the past seven years

According to their findings, although bone partially rebounds after the trip, sustained losses 

constitute at least a decade's worth of typical aging-related bone loss, potentially delaying the start of osteoporosis.

The University of Calgary's Dr. Steven Boyd, the paper's main author, and his colleagues stated that spaceflight can have a serious negative impact on skeletal tissue.

The degeneration of trabecular microarchitecture and a significant loss of bone mineral density and strength are caused by decreases in mechanical loads in microgravity.

Biochemical investigations of bone turnover point to altered bone metabolism during spaceflight, such that during spaceflight, biomarkers of bone resorption accelerate

 while biomarkers of bone synthesis lag, resulting in net bone loss.

The authors said, "Recovery of bone mineral density and strength upon return to Earth's gravity is a protracted process, and many astronauts' bones never entirely recover.

Understanding the viability of missions beyond low-Earth orbit requires knowing who is most at risk for incomplete bone tissue regeneration.

To determine the resistance of the bone to fracture, bone mineral in the bone tissue, and tissue thickness, they performed bone scans on the tibia (shinbone) and radius (forearm).

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