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Kidney Stone Risk Takes Flight

NASA watching astronauts to see if space travel heightens the hazard

TUESDAY, July 2, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Kidney stones may not be the first hazard that springs to mind when you think of space travel.

However, NASA is conducting a 40-month study to determine if the risk of developing kidney stones, especially calcium-based stones, increases with the duration of space flight and how long that risk persists after an astronaut returns to Earth.

The study began with a shuttle launch in August 2001, and continues on current shuttle flights and on the International Space Station. One part of the study includes assessing the effectiveness of a potassium citrate product called UROCIT-K in preventing kidney stones in astronauts.

NASA says previous data shows that astronauts are at increased risk for kidney stones as the result of longer missions and the physiological effects of space. There could be serious health consequences for an astronaut who develops a kidney stone during a space flight, and it could also harm the mission.

More information

Kidney stones are a painful fact of life for an estimated 10 percent of adult Americans, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which offers a complete primer on them.

SOURCE: Mission Pharmacal, news release, June 2002
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