A new study has shown that astronauts experience DNA mutations in their blood due to spaceflight . The study, published in Communications Biology in August, includes examining blood taken from 14 astronauts in NASA’s space shuttle program . The researchers noted several DNA mutations in the blood-forming stem cells compared to blood drawn earlier, which may cause concern in the future.
The researchers say the mutations are worrisome but still below the general threshold of concern. Still, the researchers concluded that astronauts should undergo periodic blood screenings to monitor for possible mutations . More than anything, the discovery of these DNA mutations in astronauts suggests that space flight has more unintended consequences than we previously thought.
Astronauts May Be at Higher Risk of DNA Mutations
This isn’t the first time the safety of spaceflight has been questioned. There were concerns that a spaceflight similar to the one previously used in NASA’s space shuttle program could put astronauts at risk of dying from cancer . A 2019 study showed this wasn’t the case, but concerns about the health risks of spaceflight continued to rise.
As plans for deep space and commercial space flights come to fruition, scientists are taking a closer look at these health risks, and the DNA mutations found in astronauts are very intriguing and alarming. Researchers looked at blood taken from astronauts about 20 years ago. These astronauts served between 1998 and 2001 .
They then compared the samples to the astronaut’s available blood spectrum and began to find mutations in the DNA . In total , they discovered 34 unknown mutations in 17 CH-driver genes . They say the presence of these small clones in the blood requires further examination and research.