Space travel may increase the risk of colon cancer, a new study led by Indian-origin scientists has warned.
Researchers, from Georgetown Cancer Center, found cosmic radiation impairs the ability of cells in the intestines of mice to eliminate oncogenic proteins, thus substantially increasing development of colorectal tumours.
The study is important because it might provide a direction for researchers in designing strategies to protect space travellers against increased cancer risk, said the scientists.
“While there is no reliable estimate of colorectal cancer risk from space radiation exposure, we have shown that exposure to cosmic radiation causes markedly increased intestinal tumours in mice,” said Datta, an assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology.
“These findings have implications for the health of astronauts undertaking exploratory missions into outer space and for future space tourists,” he said in a statement.