An obvious drawback of the research is the very small sample size, which is unavoidable as the number of people who have gone into space is very limited - approximately 550 to date. However, it does highlight a problem that space researchers have known about since the beginning of space travel and a problem that remains unsolved – how do we protect astronauts from radiation once they leave the protection of Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field?
This recent publication may be the best proof that space radiation could be a real limiting factor for future long-duration deep space missions. While there are many ways to counteract the effects of microgravity on human physiology, no feasible radiation protection has as yet been developed. Could this signal an end or at least a lengthy delay to our dreams of exploring Mars?
See also, The Guardian newspaper report entitled - Apollo deep space astronauts five times more likely to die from heart disease