A new study conducted by a team of US researchers has found that space journeys will not shorten the life of astronauts. Previously, it was speculated that exposure to space radiations will make astronauts more prone to several types of cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
During the study, researchers analyzed nearly 60 years of data on U.S. male astronauts and a group of men who received top-rated elite healthcare, especially professional athletes. The study report published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine revealed that both athletes and astronauts had a lower risk of premature deaths when compared to the remaining United States population.
It should be noted that astronauts are well educated, and they used to maintain their physical fitness more than the normal population. Experts believe that this healthy lifestyle is one of the major reasons behind the increased lifespan of astronauts.
"The challenge has always been to understand if astronauts are as healthy as they would be had they been otherwise comparably employed but had never gone to space at all. To do this, we needed to find a group that is comparable on several important factors, but has never been to space," Robert Reynolds of Mortality Research & Consulting, Inc. in City of Industry, the co-author of the study told Reuters.
To achieve accurate lifespan data, researchers later compared the mortality rates of US astronauts to professional baseball and basketball league players. The study report indicated that the living span of astronauts was as competitive as professional athletes. It should be also noted that there was no difference in mortality between baseball and basketball players.
In the study report, researchers also noted that astronauts are more likely to die prematurely due to accidents or other external causes, and the possibilities of dying early due to natural causes are very less.
The new study report comes in contrary with a previous research report which stated that space radiations will not create serious implications on the health of astronauts. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center, and the team revealed that unshielded astronauts could experience various adverse effects of radiations like cancer and internal organ damage.