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May 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Does a High-Fat Diet Increase DCS Risk?

new research says yes, but there are those who disagree

from the May, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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In decompression sickness (DCS) research, the effect of a diver's diet hasn't been studied much. A group of Polish researchers at the Medical University of Gdansk decided to see if a high fat diet plays a role.

They consider obesity a significant risk factor in DCS, because more inert gas is stored in fat tissue and the solubility of nitrogen in fat is 5.3 times higher than in hydrated tissue. Another predisposing factor, they say, is the poor circulation in fat tissues, which slows down the elimination of inert gas. However, some in the scientific community dispute those assertions.

The researchers believe that, due to the long duration of fat metabolism, a diet that is rich in fats will raise the level of lipids in the blood, which increases the amount of dissolved nitrogen, and thus the probability of DCS. So the researchers set out to see whether lipid level could be used to assess a diver's risk of DCS.

They gathered 56 men, ages 20 to 48, who were either sport or professional divers, and had them fill out questionnaires about their diet and work habits, which were used to calculate the approximate consumption and percentage of fat in their daily food intake. They tested each man's blood for lipid levels, then took them on two simulated dives in a recompression chamber -- one to a 100-foot dive, then a 200-foot dive after a 24-hour break -- and ran Doppler tests to determine whether any bubbles had formed....

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