When Neil Armstrong planted his large boots on the surface of the moon in July 1969, one is stimulated to wonder if he could have foreseen that the next thing to soar extraordinarily high would be rhetoric from elected officials in Washington, DC who subsequently would declare to impressive effect that if we can place a man on the moon, then we should be able to cure cancer, eliminate bed bug infestation, and achieve other feats of daring do.
Just as a major national initiative led to reaching the moon, today’s interplanetary dreams include long-duration missions that will take humans to Mars and beyond by public and private entities in the 2020s and 2030s. According to a study described in the April 12, 2019 issue of the journal Science, however, comprehensive studies are needed to assess the impact of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, brain, and overall physiology. To assess the health effects of long-duration spaceflight, one identical twin astronaut was monitored before, during, and after a one-year mission onboard the International Space Station, the time approximately required for a return journey to Mars.
The other twin served as a genetically matched ground control. Largely unknown risks imposed by microgravity and ionizing radiation (IR) exposure during spaceflight currently limit endeavors to visit Mars. Low-risks include changes in the gastrointestinal microbiome and in body mass. Mid-level risks include alterations in collagen regulation and intravascular fluid management. Genomic instability, assessed by chromosomal aberrations, potentially represents a higher risk because it confers a prospect of developing cancer. Structural abnormalities observed in the chromosomes of the traveling twin are typical of IR exposure. Other severe biological effects could relate to microgravity, causing a headward fluid shift and pronounced changes in vascular physiology (e.g., upper body distended arteries and veins). Nonetheless, perhaps there are many valuable lessons that may be learned from space adventures that will accrue to the advantage of earth-bound inhabitants who will benefit in ways involving their health.
More Articles from TRENDS April 2019
VARIETIES OF PLAGUES BOTH OLD AND NEW
Examples are provided of infectious diseases as well as another kind of plague resulting from doubts and uncertainties about purported advantages of contemporary life. Read More
PRESIDENT’S CORNER—ASAHP MEMBER FOCUS
Yasmen Simonian, Dean and Brady Distinguished Professor at Weber State University, is featured in this issue of TRENDS. Read More
100TH DAY OF THE 116TH CONGRESS
A summary of important accomplishments during the first 100 days of the 116th Congress is described. Read More
HEALTH REFORM DEVELOPMENTS
Discusses: the Medicare For All Act Of 2019, provision of non-medical services for social needs that affect health, and reaction in the House of Representatives to a lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. Read More
DEVELOPMENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Describes: an upcoming ASAHP Summit on Interprofessional Education; Congressional testimony by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos on education policies and priorities; and released draft consensus language from negotiated rulemaking sessions on accreditation and other topics. Read More
QUICK STAT (SHORT, TIMELY, AND TOPICAL)
Disparities In Prevalence Of Major Cancer Risk Factors And Screening Test Use In The U.S.
Foreign-Body Ingestions Of Young Children Treated In U.S. Emergency Departments: 1995-2015
Morning Exercise Is Better Than Evening Exercise Except When It Is Not
Using Voice Analysis To Evaluate And Predict Human Behaviors And Identify Health Risks Read More
AVAILABLE RESOURCES ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONICALLY
Hospitals’ Use Of Electronic Health Records Data, 2015-2017
Strengthening The Connection Between Health Professions Education And Practice Read More
PER SCIENTIAM AD SAPIENTIAM: SOME KEY STEPS IN THE JOURNEY
Furnishes examples from the professional literature that serve as stepping stones on the road from knowledge to wisdom. Read More