‘Pillownauts’ to help study adverse effects of space travel

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London: Scientists are enlisting the help of ‘pillownauts’ to examine a potentially serious adverse effect of space travel and weightlessness on the human body.

A 3-day bed rest study is being carried out at the University of Nottingham in the UK along with a 60-day bed rest study by the European Space Agency in France.

Bed rest is a tried and tested way to measure the effects of weightlessness on the human body which include bone and muscle mass loss, cardiovascular decline and impaired carbohydrate metabolism which could be a risk for type 2 diabetes.

Many astronauts come back to Earth from space showing signs of pre-diabetes because weightlessness can lead to insulin resistance whereby the muscles and liver cannot absorb glucose to help regulate blood sugar levels.

The study is specifically aiming to find out how quickly we develop insulin resistance from prolonged bed rest, and what are the mechanisms driving this harmful effect.

Ten healthy male volunteers have been recruited…

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