Space, the final frontier. Unfortunately it can also be the most dangerous--especially when it comes to human health while en route.
(SpaceRef.com) Human spaceflight to Mars could become a reality within the next 25 years, but not until some physiological problems are resolved, including an alarming loss of bone mass, fitness and muscle strength. [...]
"The rate at which we lose bone in space is 10-15 times greater than that of a post-menopausal woman," said [former astronaut James A. Pawelczyk, Ph.D. and a kinesiologist].
"There's no evidence that bone loss ever slows (in space.) Further, it's not clear that space travelers will regain that bone on returning to gravity. Recent data suggests that not all people are recovering."
This news does not bode well for future space travelers, as a trip to Mars could take up to 13 months! Unless there is a way to counter act this (via massive vitamin's and working on a bow flex daily) then our future colonists are going to have the skeleton of a 100 year old man.
(SpaceRef.com) According to Pawelczyk, "With a trip to Mars, a third of exercise capacity will be lost, and about the same amount of muscle strength--that is, barring an intervention." [...]
While Earth-based exercise is well known to build muscle, cardiorespiratory fitness and bone strength, scientists have not identified equivalent benefits in space.
"Exercise alone has not been sufficient to prevent loss of bone, muscle strength and fitness capacity. More research is needed," said Pawelczyk.
Aside from suspended animation, the only way to reduce the bone deficiency is to shorten the trip. One way of doing this is developing a hyperspace engine, although that may be several decades away from becoming reality.
Update (9/23/07): Corrected html error in second quote.
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