Mount Sinai study could lead to ongoing health monitoring of astronauts to assess possible health risks and prevent disease progression.
Astronauts are at higher risk for developing mutations—possibly linked to spaceflight—that can increase the risk of developing cancer and heart disease during their lifetimes, according to a first-of-its kind study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
A team of researchers collected blood samples from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts who flew space shuttle missions between 1998 and 2001. They discovered DNA mutations, known as somatic mutations, in the blood-forming system (hematopoietic stem cells) in all 14 astronauts studied. Their findings, published in the August issue of Nature Communications Biology, suggest that spaceflight could be associated with these mutations and emphasize the importance of ongoing blood screening of astronauts throughout their careers and during their retirement to monitor their health.