Is space just a crazy vacuum that causes our bodies to age quickly and our bones to crumble? According to Thomas Lang, MD, professor at the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and associate dean of research at the School of Dentistry at University of California San Francisco, space travel takes a toll on an astronaut’s skeletal health, especially at the hip, an area susceptible to fractures for people with osteoporosis.
Astronauts’ bones deteriorate while in space because their muscles and bones cannot load in the solar system’s microgravity environment. Upon arriving back on earth, their body must quickly acclimate to gravity and this response typically puts their bodies under stress, resulting in bone injury.
Yet, Dr. Lang has figured out a solution to keep astronauts’ bones safe and sound. In his study, “Bone Loss in Long-Duration Spaceflight: Measurements and Countermeasure”, he recommends heavy resistance exercise, a balanced diet, conscientious vitamin D intake, and bisphosphates, a medicine that slows down bone loss as ways to keep bones healthy while hanging out on the moon.
In 2013, Dr. Lang was presented with a NASA International Space Station Top Discoveries Award for his team’s research on preventing bone loss in spaceflight. His work was named a Top Discovery of the International Space Station.