Why do astronauts get “area anemia”? This research has a solution.

A brand new evaluation has discovered that area journey can decrease crimson blood cell counts, resulting in a situation often called “area anemia.” A collaboration between The College of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital examined the crimson blood cell counts of 14 astronauts who had been to area, and located that their our bodies destroyed 54% extra crimson blood cells in area than they did on Earth — offering a solution to long-held questions in regards to the situation.

“Area anemia has constantly been reported when astronauts returned to Earth because the first area missions, however we did not know why,” mentioned lead creator Dr. Man Trudel, a researcher at The Ottawa Hospital and professor on the College of Ottawa, in a press launch. 

Previous to this research, area anemia was believed to be attributable to a sudden shift of fluids into an astronaut’s higher physique after they first entered area, inflicting the lack of 10% of the liquid of their blood vessels. It was additionally believed that their our bodies would rapidly destroy 10% of their crimson blood cells to steadiness this shift, and crimson blood cell rely would return to regular after 10 days in area, the discharge mentioned. 

However the analysis workforce found that being in area was truly the reason for the crimson blood cell destruction by measuring the crimson blood cell counts of the 14 astronauts over six months in area. The researchers did not measure crimson blood cell counts instantly, however they used a measurement of carbon monoxide — which is launched when part of a crimson blood cell is destroyed — as a proxy. 

On Earth, human our bodies create and kill 2 million crimson blood cells each second — however in area, they destroy 3 million each second, the researchers mentioned. 

“Our research exhibits that upon arriving in area, extra crimson blood cells are destroyed, and this continues for your entire period of the astronaut’s mission,” Trudel continued. 

Each female and male astronauts skilled the identical crimson blood cell destruction, and 5 of 13 astronauts had been clinically anemic upon touchdown, the researchers mentioned within the launch. One astronaut didn’t have blood drawn upon touchdown.

Astronaut Tim Peake’s first blood draw accomplished in area. The pattern was taken as a part of the MARROW experiment.


“Fortunately, having fewer crimson blood cells in area is not an issue when your physique is weightless,” Trudel mentioned. “However when touchdown on Earth and probably on different planets or moons, anemia affecting your vitality, endurance, and energy can threaten mission aims. The consequences of anemia are solely felt when you land, and should cope with gravity once more.”

After the astronauts returned to Earth, it took three to 4 months for crimson blood cell counts to return to regular — however the scientists discovered {that a} 12 months after touchdown, crimson blood cell demise was nonetheless 30% greater than it was earlier than the area mission.

“That is the most effective description we now have of crimson blood cell management in area and after return to Earth,” mentioned Trudel. “These findings are spectacular, contemplating these measurements had by no means been made earlier than and we had no concept if we had been going to search out something. We had been shocked and rewarded for our curiosity.”

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