From Outer Space to Planet Earth: Stronger Bones for Everyone

Dr. Thomas Lang is busy. He serves as professor in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and as associate dean for research in the School of Dentistry.

What everyone wants to know about, however, is his work with astronauts.  Dr. Lang’s UC San Francisco team has worked with researchers at UC Irvine and NASA to understand why bones deteriorate so quickly during space travel and what can be done to prevent it. The collaboration's findings have indicated that bone loss can be prevented by heavy resistance exercise, good nutrition including vitamin D intake, and use of medicines called bisphosphonates, which slow or stop bone loss. In 2013, in recognition of this work, Dr. Lang was honored to accept a NASA International Space Station Top Discoveries Award on behalf of the team.

“There’s very good evidence now that we can prevent bone loss from happening,” Lang says. That’s good news for astronauts, and research the rest of us can benefit from for our own health.

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