Hurry up and go! Human versus robot on Mars.  Credit: NASA

Hurry up and go! Human versus robot on Mars.
Credit: NASA


Ok…yet another issue to consider for outbound space travelers.

Sure there’s radiation, palpitations during landing on a faraway world, or getting struck in the noggin by a meteorite.

Here’s a new one to come to grips with.

Prolonged spaceflight may give you a nasty case of diarrhea.

New research published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) reports in their journal that spaceflight may increase susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease.

Specifically, when mice were subjected to simulated spaceflight conditions, the balance of bacteria and the function of immune cells in the gut changed, leading to increased bowel inflammation.

Messages from mice

“Our study provides useful insights on the cross-regulation of the mucosal immune system, epithelial barrier and commensal bacteria not only in humans in spaceflight or analog, but also in humans on Earth that undergo various stresses,” reports Qing Ge, study author from the Department of Immunology at Peking University Health Science Center in Peking, Beijing.

“We already know that a trip to Mars and back may well have serious, possibly permanent, effects on the bodies of the astronauts,” said Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.

Turns out, the hidden passengers on that mission — the bacteria in the gut of space travelers — will be affected as well, Weissmann adds in a FASEB press statement. “This lends further credence to the fact that life on Earth, including the microbiome, evolved under gravity and needs it to thrive.”

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