Does living in space adversely affect our life span? Although many people believe formally in this statement, Science is proving quite the opposite following the study on the evolution of telomere length.
In 2015, the prestigious astronaut Scott Kelly was launched into orbit to spend a year aboard the International Space Station, while his identical twin brother, Mark, remained on Earth. Then it began a deep study about how their bodies evolved in such different conditions. This is just one of another reports and studies that are helping NASA to the success of the next big challenge for the space industry: Putting people on our nearest planetary neighbour, Mars, a 300 days journey where the bodies of astronauts will suffer the effect of space.
One of the main conclusion of the study astonished to the Scientists, because the stresses of space travel helped Scott’s telomeres to grow longer while Mark’s remained more or less the same length. When Scott returned to Earth, his telomeres shrank back to the same length as Mark’s.
For the moment, experts have said it is possible that the extra-strong radiation that astronauts are exposed to in space might weed out cells with shorter telomeres, leaving only those with long ones and creating the impression that telomere lengths grew.
It is critical to research more to learn if something about being in space actually builds up telomeres by activating the enzyme called telomerase, which constructs them. Even if it does, that’s not necessarily a good thing, because telomerase activity is also key to cancer cell growth. For the moment, this research has so far turned up mostly questions, but it also opens up many possibilities of research for the future.
Here there is a short video that explains this study: NASA HRP Twins Research Study with Craig Kundrot