The next challenge for getting to Mars: What happens to the human body in space

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From NASA’s Moon to Mars program to Elon Musk’s ambitious plan to send a million people to Mars by 2050, the race is on to get human feet on the red planet. With increasingly sophisticated rockets and robotics, the technological challenges standing in the way of this goal are fast being eroded.

But there might be a different issue which hampers plans to take people off-planet and send them out to explore the rest of the solar system. Strange things happen to the human body in space, and we’re going to need to find ways to address these medical issues if we want to be able to send astronauts on long-duration missions like the several years that a Mars mission might require.

Digital Trends spoke to University College London cardiologist Dr. Rohin Francis, who has performed studies into space medicine, about how human bodies respond to long-term habitation of the space environment and what that might mean for manned missions to Mars.

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Flight attendants have higher rates of many cancers, study says

Flight attendants are exposed to a number of known cancer-causing risks, but few studies have rigorously quantified that risk, and researchers say they are an understudied occupational group.

The Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (FAHS), begun in 2007, addresses some of the gaps in understanding health risks among flight attendants. In the latest report, published in the journal Environmental Health, researchers found that flight attendants had higher rates of many cancers, including breast cancer and melanoma, compared to the general population.

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How much radiation are you exposed to on a plane?

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Radiation is all around you on an airplange.

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, you’ve probably heard me and other people talk about the radiation exposure we experience in everyday life. All humans, throughout history, have been exposed to background radiation produced constantly by the natural environment. Then there’s added exposures from modern sources: X-rays and medical scans, living near power plants (both coal and nuclear, and the coal is actually worse), and flying in airplanes…

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Flaxseed might protect against death from radiation

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Another benefit from flax?

Flaxseed may protect against the damaging effects of radiation, whether from a terrorist’s dirty bomb or a routine cancer treatment, a new study in mice suggests.

Mice that ate flaxseed either before or up to six weeks after receiving a large radiation dose to the chest were more likely to survive and had fewer lung problems than mice not given flaxseed. Four months after receiving radiation, up to 88 percent of mice that ate flaxseed were still alive, compared with just 40 percent of mice who did not eat flaxseed.

Researchers have been particularly interested in finding a cheap, safe supplement to give to people who have been exposed to radiation in the event of a terrorist attack…

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