A group of Chinese University scientists are planning to carry out a medical study on the risk of osteoporosis among astronauts to prepare for further space projects by China. The plan was unveiled by Qin Ling , director of the university's musculoskeletal research laboratory. He said the research was important as he believed the bone health of Chinese astronauts would be at risk if they needed to spend more time in space in future. 'Astronauts are at the risk of developing osteoporosis due to the lack of weight-bearing activities under zero-gravity conditions in the spacecraft. We believe Chinese astronauts may need to stay in space for months or even longer to carry out more scientific research, so we think there is a need to carry out research to maintain their bone health,' Professor Qin said. His team was seeking to co-operate with the mainland space centre to carry out the research. Meanwhile, the university and mainland scientists have set out guidelines to assess the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine on the treatment of osteoporosis. The guidelines, the first of their kind, provide a standard for researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicines in line with the standards for western medicine. Harry Genant, chairman of the World Health Organisation taskforce on osteoporosis, said the guidelines had to be reviewed by international and overseas medical groups before being considered by the WHO for endorsement. 'There is growing interest in developing this form of medicine and testing it vigorously will be consistent with the broader guidelines put forward by the WHO,' Professor Genant said. Osteoporosis is the sixth most common chronic disease in the world due to the ageing problem. In Hong Kong, 14 per cent of the elderly population aged 60 and older suffer from osteoporosis.