Study: Weightlessness might produce long term anemia

The uncertainty of science: A study of fourteen astronauts who spent six months on ISS has found that weightlessness appears to increase the loss of red blood cells, and that the continuing loss extends well past their return to Earth.

Before this study, space anemia was thought to be a quick adaptation to fluids shifting into the astronaut’s upper body when they first arrived in space. Astronauts lose 10 percent of the liquid in their blood vessels this way. It was thought astronauts rapidly destroyed 10 percent of their red blood cells to restore the balance, and that red blood cell control was back to normal after 10 days in space.

Instead, Dr. Trudel’s team found that the red blood cell destruction was a primary effect of being in space, not just caused by fluid shifts. They demonstrated this by directly measuring red blood cell destruction in 14 astronauts during their six-month space missions.

On Earth, our bodies create and destroy 2 million red blood cells every second. The researchers found that astronauts were destroying 54 percent more red blood cells during the six months they were in space, or 3 million every second. These results were the same for both female and male astronauts.

The study also found that for as much as a year afterward the astronauts continued to lose red blood cells at a rate 30% greater than normal.

The researchers immediately suggested further invasive monitoring of anyone who wants to go to space. From their paper:

Space tourism will considerably expand the number of space travelers. Medical screening of future astronauts and space tourists might benefit from a preflight profiling of globin gene and modifiers. Postlanding monitoring should cover conditions affected by anemia and hemolysis. Monitoring individual astronaut’s levels of hemolysis during mission may be indicated to reduce health risks.

Without question, this data strongly suggests that it would be wise for anyone who wants to go into space for long periods have themselves checked for anemia, and have it treated prior to going, or if they still have it at launch time to decide not to go. However, the choice should belong to the individual, not bureaucrats imposing regulations or legislators passing laws.

Unfortunately, our modern leftist society now assumes such decisions no longer belong to the individual, but must be made by their betters in Washington. Provisions in the 2004 Space Amendments act allows the FAA to impose such invasive medical testing on future space tourists. Its bureaucrats have not yet done so, but the recent history with government mandates over the COVID shots suggests strongly that they will not hesitate to do so when they think they can get away with it.