The potential influence of the microbiota and probiotics on women during long spaceflights

Womens Health (Lond). 2016;12(2):193-8. doi: 10.2217/whe.15.101. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Humans have been exploring space for almost 55 years but space travel comes with many psychological and physiological changes that astronauts have to adapt to, both during and post flight missions. Now, with the reality of such missions lasting years, maintaining proper health of the flight crew is a high priority. While conditions such as nausea, bone loss, renal calculi and depression have been recognized, and approaches to medical and surgical care in space considered, the influence of the microbiota could be of added significance in maintaining astronaut health. While probiotics have long been part of the Russian cosmonaut diet, their use for specific health concerns of women has not been assessed. In this article, we explore the ways in which the microbiome may influence the health of female astronauts during long space flights, and present a rationale for the use of probiotics.

Keywords: breast cancer; female astronauts; microbiota; probiotics; spaceflight; urinary tract infections.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Astronauts*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Probiotics*
  • Space Flight*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Weightlessness / adverse effects*