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Mars-bound astronauts face chronic dementia risk: study

Astronauts travelling to Mars on future extended missions may face chronic dementia risk from exposure to galactic cosmic rays, a new study has warned.

Charles Limoli from University of California, Irvine in the US and colleagues found that exposure to highly energetic charged particles - much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that will bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights - causes significant long-term brain damage in test rodents, resulting in cognitive impairments and dementia.

The study follows an earlier research that showed somewhat shorter-term brain effects of galactic cosmic rays.

The current findings, Limoli said, raise much greater alarm. “This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two-to-three-year round trip to Mars,” said Limoli.

“The space environment poses unique hazards to astronauts. Exposure to these particles can lead to a range of potential central nervous system complications that can occur during and persist long after actual space travel - such as various performance decrements, memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision-making,” he said. 
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