Blaine's public fast 'starts to get scary'

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The Independent Online

As a remarkably plump- looking David Blaine spends his 29th day in a plastic box beside the Thames, he may be entering the dangerous stage of his enforced starvation.

As a remarkably plump- looking David Blaine spends his 29th day in a plastic box beside the Thames, he may be entering the dangerous stage of his enforced starvation.

Many experts have moved from questioning whether Blaine is cheating, to whether the 44-day stunt is really as deadly as the weeks of hype suggest.

Professor Jeremy Ward, a physiologist at King's College London, said: "He is a fit young man who is naturally quite muscular and who obviously put on weight before he even started. It is highly unlikely that he will do any permanent damage to himself in 44 days.

"Irish hunger strikers like Bobby Sands did not lapse into coma until the 60-day mark. At 44 days, he may be having trouble focusing and feel very weak, but I doubt he will be suffering from severe symptoms or even be risking death. I am sure he will come out of the box at the end of 44 days with ambulances screeching around him and people waving their arms in the air, but I don't expect they will be needed."

Harmony Korine, a film maker and Blaine's best friend and collaborator, continued to hype up the event yesterday, perhaps mindful that the public was losing interest in events next to Tower Bridge. "I am very frightened," Mr Korine says on the official website for the stunt. "Now is when it starts to get scary."

Professor Ward said that he would expect Blaine to lose between 15 and 20 per cent of his body weight by the end of the stunt, and should have started to become visibly thinner by now. "It is difficult to tell without weighing him whether he is losing weight," he said.

"Most of his body will be drawing on the fat reserves to keep going.

"The brain, kidneys and red blood cells will be using the muscles to get glucose, so he will start to become weaker from now on."

Urine tests last week concluded that Blaine's body was free of the salt and carbohydrates scientists would expect to find if he had smuggled in food, or supplemented his water supply, as some sceptics have suggested.

But Professor Ward said: "It would not be beyond the wit of man to introduce masking agents into the urine, so that tests would be unable to detect supplements. If he wanted to make the ordeal less unpleasant, the best thing would be to have a little salt added to his water supply."

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