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What's the link between astronauts and osteoporosis?

Invited speakers include international medical specialists and two astronauts: Canadian astronaut Dave Williams (who is both an emergency medicine physician and an astronaut, and the first Canadian to have lived and worked in space and in the ocean) and American astronaut Shannon Lucid, (who set two records for the longest duration for a woman in space and the longest duration for an American in space aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1996).

The symposium will be presented by the International Space Life Sciences Working Group whose members include the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States, and the European national space agencies of Italy, France, Germany and Ukraine.

Astronauts face long periods of immobility, as do bedridden patients, with similar loss of bone strength.

"This is an important but under-recognized issue for bone health," said Professor Ren Rizzoli, chairman of the IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors, chairman, the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis 2006 Scientific Committee and one of the speakers at the space symposium. "Bone is a living tissue, and must be 'stressed' to maintain strength. If bones are immobile for long periods, as occurs in space but also in bedridden patients, the individual will lose a substantial amount of muscle and bone mass, which may have serious repercussions."

"Bone loss in space is one of the major obstacles to long duration missions such as a voyage to Mars," added Dr. Nicole Buckley, Director for Life and Physical Sciences at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). "What we learn about bone loss in space helps better understand osteoporosis, a very serious medical problem on Earth." The Bone Research in Space Symposium is coordinated by the CSA.

The role of exercise and bone health is particularly timely, since the theme of IOF's World Osteoporosis Day 2005 (WOD) was "M
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Contact: Janice Blondeau
info@osteofound.org
41-229-940-100
International Osteoporosis Foundation
16-Feb-2006


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