JEJU, Aug. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — A scientific study by a group of high school students is garnering attention as it identified the secret behind the physical strength of female divers on South Korea’s resort island of Jeju, or “haenyeo,” through a genetic analysis.
Three students from Namnyeong High School on Jeju Island revealed on Tuesday that they had scientifically proven that the physical strength of the women divers stems from acquired efforts (physical activities) rather than from innate genetic differences.
The students explained in the thesis they submitted to the Jeju Science Fair that Jeju haenyeo have a stronger musculoskeletal system than other women, with their bodies having superior oxygen transport capabilities.
To identify the inherent features of haenyeo, they compared and analyzed the innate genetic features and acquired changes between five divers each with more than 40 years of experience in diving and a control group of five ordinary women between 64 and 72 years of age.
The students conducted a genetic test of the control group members by using their globuli epithelial cells, while assessing their acquired changes through a separate questionnaire, medical interview and documentary survey.
This research found that most of the women divers had high blood pressure symptoms, but unlike their non-diver counterparts, they did not have any cholesterol issues.
This is because the women divers have long performed in low-temperature sea water, which prevents cholesterol from being accumulated in the body.
The students concluded that the bodies of the women divers developed an enhanced oxygen transport capability thanks to more than 40 years of physical activity.
“This study was conducted to bring about social interest so that the Jeju haenyeo culture is well preserved and the haenyeo will not disappear in the future,” said Lee Jong-moon, the students’ advisor.
Lina Jang (email@example.com)