Resilience: Study Shows Women Are Tougher Than Men in Space Flight

New York City, USA – A recent study on the effects of spaceflight suggests that women may exhibit more resilience than men to the stresses of space and recover faster upon returning to Earth. Conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, the study focused on the immune system’s response to space travel in both men and women. The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, indicate that gene activity is more disrupted in men and takes longer to return to normal once back on Earth.

The study analyzed data from two men and two women who participated in the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission in 2021, comparing their immune system reactions with those of 64 other astronauts. The results showed that men were more affected by spaceflight across various cell types and metrics, with gene activity being particularly impacted. One significant protein affected was fibrinogen, crucial for blood clotting.

Researchers noted that the preliminary findings highlight the importance of further studies to confirm these trends, as they could have implications for astronaut recovery programs and crew selection for future deep space missions, including those to the moon and beyond. While the reasons for women’s increased resilience to spaceflight remain unclear, one theory suggests that the ability to cope with the physiological demands of pregnancy may play a role in their adaptability to space stresses.

The study is part of a larger effort to create a space biology database to mitigate health risks for astronauts on future missions, including those to the moon, lunar orbit, and potentially Mars. However, another study published in Nature Communications raises concerns about the safety of long, deep space missions like a round trip to Mars. Researchers exposed mice to simulated galactic cosmic rays and found that the radiation levels could lead to permanent kidney damage in humans, potentially requiring dialysis as a solution upon return.

The sensitivity of the kidneys to radiation, particularly in damaging mitochondria, could pose significant challenges for astronauts embarking on missions to Mars. The study underscores the complexities of deep space travel and the need for further research to address potential health risks associated with cosmic radiation exposure. As space agencies like NASA plan for ambitious missions to Mars in the 2030s, understanding and mitigating the effects of cosmic radiation on astronauts will be crucial for ensuring their safety and well-being.