The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Jan 01, 2013
 

Space travel can accelerate Alzheimer's: US study

 
 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Long journeys into deep space, including a mission to Mars, could expose astronauts to levels of cosmic radiation harmful to the brain and accelerate Alzheimer's disease, said US research on Monday.

The Nasa-funded study involved bombarding mice with varied radiation doses, including levels comparable to what voyagers would experience during a mission to Mars, and seeing how the animals managed to recall objects or locations.

Mice that were exposed to radiation were far more likely to fail those tasks - suggesting neurological impairment earlier than such symptoms typically appear.

"Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts," said Michael O'Banion, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and senior author of the study published in scientific journal Plos One.