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Radiation called high-mass, high-charged particles (HZE) are capable of penetrating a spacecraft and causing the early onset of Alzheimer's disease

A new study shows that extended exposure to cosmic radiation in space can negatively affect astronauts' brains.

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, led by M. Kerry O'Banion, found that a specific type of radiation called high-mass, high-charged particles (HZE) are capable of penetrating a spacecraft and causing the early onset of Alzheimer's disease.

NASA and other researchers have studied the effects of long-term space travel on astronauts for years, and found that galactic cosmic radiation caused cancer, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases. However, this is the first study to show effects on the brain in regards to neurodegeneration.

HZE particles are propelled through space at very high speeds thanks to exploding stars, and come in a variety of forms. In this particular study, the researchers looked at iron particles because they, like HZE particles, have a mass and speed that allow them to enter solid objects.

The researchers then used particle accelerators to reproduce radioactive particles located in space. From there, animal models with Alzheimer's disease were exposed to different doses of the radiation. They even used levels comparable to a mission to Mars.

According to the results, the brains of the mice exposed to the radiation had vascular alterations and an abnormal accumulation of beta amyloid, which is a sign of Alzheimer's disease.

Also, the mice exposed to radiation were more likely to fail memory tests more often and earlier than mice who were not.

"Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts," said O'Banion. "The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease."

Source: Science Daily

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By Jeffk464 on 1/1/2013 9:03:15 PM , Rating: 2
Ha, I knew I was smart to wear my tinfoil hat.

RE: smart
By Alexvrb on 1/1/2013 11:41:22 PM , Rating: 3
In your experience, does aluminum foil work just as well?

RE: smart
By Cypherdude1 on 1/2/2013 2:21:22 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, there you go. The tinfoil hat actually DOES have a purpose. People who wore them on Earth in the 50's weren't that far off. They did NOT deserve to be ridiculed!

RE: smart
By cyberguyz on 1/2/2013 7:48:49 AM , Rating: 3
In my personal experience I find tin foil is far superior to aluminum foil at blocking a wider range of galactic and mental wavelengths.

RE: smart
By maugrimtr on 1/2/2013 10:34:49 AM , Rating: 2
We really need someone to invent the leadfoil hat. It's the only way to block all the radiation. Genetic engineering to improve the neck and upper shoulder muscles is also worth looking into to carry the extra weight.

RE: smart
By JediJeb on 1/2/2013 9:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
I want some of the gold foil used on the lunar lander, that way I can protect my brain with a little bling ;)

RE: smart
By superstition on 1/5/2013 12:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
Not even lead foil will block gamma rays completely.

RE: smart
By Flunk on 1/2/2013 9:02:17 AM , Rating: 3
If a spacecraft doesn't stop the radiation then your foil is worthless.

RE: smart
By inighthawki on 1/6/2013 7:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed the joke...

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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