Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cosmic Rays More Dangerous to Mars Astronauts than Previously Thought

Artist's concept of a manned mission to Mars. Credit: NASA

New study conducted by a radiation expert shows that cancer risk for future manned missions to Mars is twice as higher than previously thought. The research predicts a dramatic increase in the disease for astronauts exposed to cosmic rays during long-term missions beyond Earth’s magnetic field.

Francis Cucinotta is a professor for the department of health physics and diagnostic sciences within the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He has been a chief scientist with NASA’s radiation program since 2003, and continues to serve as an adviser to the Human Medical and Technical Authority at NASA on radiation risks. Cucinotta has recently published a research paper in the May issue of Scientific Reports, presenting new findings on the cancer risk for Mars astronauts.

“The current study builds on many published mechanistic studies of non-targeted effects (NTE). What was lacking were broad beam studies with a sufficient number of particle types at low doses similar to space missions to make a ‘full’ prediction for the space environment,” Cucinotta told

Galactic cosmic rays consist of high energy protons, helium and other high energy nuclei (HZE ions). Heavy ions and low energy protons and helium particles are highly ionizing forms of radiation, which produce distinct biological damage. The health risks from galactic cosmic ray exposure to astronauts include cancer, central nervous system effects, cataracts, circulatory diseases and acute radiation syndromes.

According to the new study, an NTE model is shown to lead to a two-fold or more increase in cancer risk compared to the conventional risk model for a Mars mission. NTEs include bystander effects where cells traversed by heavy ions transmit oncogenic signals to nearby cells, and genomic instability in the progeny of irradiated cells.

“Mechanistic studies show the way the NTE works (the biological basis), but the broad beam experiments at particle accelerators are needed to extrapolate to the galactic cosmic ray predictions,” Cucinotta said.

The health risks from space radiation are currently poorly understood and very little research on biological countermeasures to these risks has occurred. The new findings show a tremendous need for additional studies focused on cosmic ray exposures to tissues that dominate human cancer risks.

According to Cucinotta, an NTE is shown in the Harderian gland tumor model and also chromosome aberration studies at low doses using broad beams with many heavy ion types. These are the same models used to understand radiation quality in the conventional models as described by the National Council on radiation protection and measurements (NCRP), the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and US National Academy of Science reports. 

“What is lacking is data in mouse models for other tumor types, most important lung, stomach, breast colon and liver. This is the most serious problem. Only limited high dose studies have been performed for these tissues. Moreover, how the risk varies with genetic background has not been studied for chronic heavy ion exposure if at all,” Cucinotta noted.

He underlined that the US and international space agencies are only partly prepared for risks on interplanetary space missions. Although the understanding of the space environment, shielding materials and properties and dosimetry requirements are well know, there is still much work to be done in order to mitigate cancer risk caused by cosmic rays during missions outside the protection of Earth’s magnetic field.

According to Cucinotta, biological countermeasures would include improving DNA repair, responses to oxidative damage (chronic), immune system responses and possibly reducing chronic inflammation.

“Some work has been done along these lines for X-rays but not much as all for heavy ions,” he said.

Challenges for researchers working on the protection methods are type of radiation and heavy ions, chronic exposure and chronic drug intake. For instance, countermeasure developed using high doses may not be relevant for chronic low dose like galactic cosmic rays so results could be misleading if wrong doses are not used.

“I am an advocate for an order of magnitude increase in number of experimental studies in models of human risk by NASA, ESA and other space agencies, however I do not perform these studies myself. I will continue to model new data sets from important experiments if they occur,” Cucinotta concluded.


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  2. Radiation Hucksters Strike Again
    By Dr. Robert Zubrin, Mars Society President, 06.08.17

    "According to a publicity campaign launched on behalf of a paper authored by University of Nevada Las Vegas Professor Frank Cucinotta, new findings show "collateral damage from cosmic rays increases cancer risks for Mars astronauts."

    "However an examination of the paper itself shows no discussion of experimental methods or results, because no experiments were done and no data was taken. Rather the much-ballyhooed paper is a discussion of a computer model that Prof. Cucinotta has created that claims to have the power to predict radiation-induced cancer occurrences. In short, there’s no real news. Furthermore, to the extent that the model in question has any empirical foundation, it is based on irrelevant prior experiments done in which researchers subjected mice to radiation dose rates millions of times greater than astronauts would receive on their way to Mars."

    Read more at this link:

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  4. What's really much much important is the type of radiation people are exposed to right now on planet earth.

    And what's really "more dangerous" than officially acknowledged are medical x-rays and nuclear fallout although in those cases it had been know for decades but suppressed all along.

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    The conventional medical-dental industries and the nuclear-military industries (=the radiation cartel) have been, for well over half a century , perpetually lying about, and minimizing, the true toxicity of ionizing radiation (e.g resorting to false sneaky comparisons between radiation exposure from sunlight or an airplane flight to a dental or medical x-ray or the exposure to nuclear fallout, etc. to deliberately deceive the unwitting public) to avoid culpability for the huge number of deaths and injuries that they're responsible for (discussed and well referenced in the book "The Mammogram Myth" by Rolf Hefti -- read a synopsis at ).

    The official accounts on the Chernobyl debacle, as an example, range from a few dozen to a few hundred people who ended up dead while independent analyses (conducted by people NOT tied to the corrupt corporate mainstream "science" syndicate) estimated the death toll in the tens to hundreds of thousands (in some cases approaching a million) of deceased people (and the radiation cartel-induced massacre is continuing).

    The distortions and disinformation about the alleged safety of (low dose) radiation or the purported lack of much harm to people, whether from medical x-rays or fallout from disaster sites such as Chernobyl or Fukushima, continues to this day. The real danger and damage caused by Chernobyl and Fukushima are much higher than the officialdom wants the public to believe.

    You can recognize the global grip of this powerful big money cartel by the ominous absence in the reporting of the allied corporate mass media (the mainstream fake news media) about the ongoing severe disaster at Fukushima, or by any of the solid proofs about the frauds this criminal evil cartel is involved in. You can find out more about that from Dr. Chris Busby, Dr. Helen Caldicott and others who are not tied to the corrupt radiation cartel.

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