Men and women in space: bone loss and kidney stone risk after long-duration spaceflight

J Bone Miner Res. 2014 Jul;29(7):1639-45. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.2185.


Bone loss, a key concern for long-duration space travelers, is typically considered a female issue. The number of women who have flown long-duration space missions is now great enough to allow a quantitative comparison of changes in bone and renal stone risk by sex. Participants were 42 astronauts (33 men and 9 women) on long-duration missions to the International Space Station. Bone mineral density (by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and biochemical markers of bone metabolism (from blood and urine samples) were evaluated before and after flight. Data were analyzed in two groups, based on available resistance exercise equipment. Missions were 49 to 215 days in duration, flown between 2000 and 2012. The bone density response to spaceflight was the same for men and women in both exercise groups. The bone mineral density response to flight was the same for men and women, and the typical decrease in bone mineral density (whole body and/or regional) after flight was not observed for either sex for those using an advanced resistive exercise device. Biochemical markers of bone formation and resorption responded similarly in male and female astronauts. The response of urinary supersaturation risk to spaceflight was not significantly different between men and women, although risks were typically increased after flight in both groups, and risks were greater in men than in women before and after flight. The responses of men and women to spaceflight with respect to these measures of bone health were not different.


Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Resorption / complications*
  • Bone Resorption / etiology*
  • Bone Resorption / physiopathology
  • Bone Resorption / urine
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Extraterrestrial Environment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi / complications*
  • Kidney Calculi / etiology*
  • Kidney Calculi / physiopathology
  • Kidney Calculi / urine
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Space Flight*
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium