Bone loss suffered by astronauts in space may not be restored on Earth, new study reveals

A study of bone loss in 17 astronauts flying aboard the International Space Station provides a better understanding of the effects of space travel on the human body and the steps it can take to reduce it during potentially ambitious future missions.

The research has collected new data on astronaut bone loss caused by microgravity in space and the ability to restore bone mineral density on Earth.

It involved 14 male and three female astronauts with an average age of 47 years, whose missions ranged from four to seven months in space, averaging about 5.5 months.

One year after their return to Earth, the astronauts showed an average of 2.1 percent decreased bone mineral density at the tibia – one of the bones of the lower leg – and 1.3 percent decreased bone strength.

Nine did not recover bone mineral density after spaceflight and experienced permanent loss.

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