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The China Study

The China Study

Righto ! Today is the day for a bit of science. I’d like to recommend this book, by Dr Thomas Campbell. If like me you are interested in knowing some real facts about the benefits of a plant based diet, either due to personal interest, or because you want to be a bit better informed, or you want to understand the health implications of what you eat then this book is for you. I loved reading this book, and hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thomas Colin Campbell is an American nutritionist who specialises in the study of nutrition on long term health. He is a professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University in the United States. Thomas is an advocate of a low fat, whole foods, plant based diet. He has authored / co-authored hundreds of research papers on this topic, and in 2005 he released the book ‘The China Study’ which he co-wrote with his son. The China Study has already sold over 1 million copies, which makes it one of the highest selling books on nutrition in the United States.

Thomas was born on 1st January 1934 and grew up on a dairy farm and later went on to study Veterinary Medicine at Pennsylvania State University where he obtained his degree in 1956. He completed his Masters in Nutrition and Biochemistry at Cornell Unversity in 1958 and later his PhD in Nutrition, Biochemistry and Microbiology in 1961. Due to his upbringing and family background Thomas was brought up to believe that farming and the output of farming practise was not only healthy, but promoted longevity. It wasn’t until he started practising nutrition and conducting long term studies on nutrition on human health that he began to change his views.

Dr Campbell has featured in the American documentary ‘forks over knives’, has been a senior science advisor to the American Institute of Cancel Research, and was a director of the China-Cornell-Oxford study. The China-Cornell-Oxford study is a 20 year study conducted in collaboration by the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine, Cornell University and Oxford University; the book is described in the The New York Times as ‘The Grand Prix of Epidemiology’. During his early career he spent several years trying to solve the ‘chicken feed puzzle’. Why were millions of chicks a year dying from an unkown toxic chemical in their feed ? Dr Thomas Campbell later helped discover the chemical ‘dioxin’ – arguably one of the most toxic chemicals ever found (this chemical is the active ingredient in the Agent Orange – which was used to decimate forests in the Vietnam War).

Dr Campbell later began co-ordinating a project based out of the Phillipines looking at why there was an unusually high presence of liver cancer (usually an adult disease) in malnourished Filipino children. Until that time, it had been thought that the best way to treat malnourished children was to give them a diet high in protein (which at that time mean’t feeding them animal protein). Dr Campbells research later showed that the children who were more likely to get liver cancer were those on the highest protein diets – and these just happened to be children of the wealthiest families. Dr Campbell later conducted further studies (which are repeatable) showing that a diet with as high as 20% protein produced evidence of liver cancer in 100% of subjects, he compared this with a diet of 5% protein which showed evidence of liver cancer in 0% of subjects. For the first time, he had demonstrated a link between cancer and protein consumption in the diet – these conclusions led him to challenge his beliefs that he held due to his farming background and influenced much of his later study over the coming decades.

Important: Dr Campbell is not saying that a diet high in protein is enough by itself to cause cancer, but he is saying that where there are other cancer causing triggers present (these may be from environmental factors – such as poisons, toxins etc. or there may be genetic factors) that a diet which is high in protein seems to be a trigger and an accelerator which allows cancers to spread from the initiation stage, to the growth stage to the later terminal decline stage. Dr Campbells later work with a number of different cancers shows that a whole foods, plant based diet is an important contributor to preventing or reducing the spread of cancer within the human body. Because of this work, and despite his upbringing and early training – this is why Dr Campbell now advocates an entirely plant based, whole foods diet which is free from processed foods and refined carbohydrates which he started himself in 1990. In fact Dr Campbells research shows that a plant based diet can reverse or halt the spread of specific cancer’s in both the initiation and acceleration stages.

It really is worth reading this study. Dr Campbell has produced 100’s of papers of independently verifiable research which backup his findings. One of the things that is interesting for me is that his studies were so detailed that he was able to show that not all kinds of proteins had these cancer causing or cancer accelerating properties. So what protein is consistently found according to Dr Campbell to promote or accelerate a range of different cancers ? The answer is Casein, which makes up 87% of cows milk protein.

OK, so you might be interested to know what kind of protein did not promote cancer (either at the initiation or acceleration stages) ? The safe proteins are found in plants, including wheat and soy. It’s safe to say that this research (which has been repeated many times) completely changed his views on nutritioinal health advice that he should be giving to the American public.

If you are interested, the China Study surfaced over 8000 statistically significant associations between various dietary factors and disease. The study was a combination of animal based studies and human based (comparing diets of those in rural China and Taiwan with those in North America). Dr Campbell found that those who consistently ate the most animal based foods got the most chronic desease. There are specific chapters in the book which deal with :

– Common Cancers (Breast, Prostate, Bowel)
– Heart Disease
– Obesity
– Diabetes
– Autoimmune Disease
– Bone Disorders, Kidney problems, Eye and Brain Diseases

Some of the other findings which are surfaced in this book are:

– Dietary change can enable diabetic patients to go off their medication
– Heart disease can be reversed by diet alone
– Breast cancer is related to levels of female hormones in the blood, which are determined by the food we eat
– Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of prostate cancer
– Anti-oxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, are linked to better mental performance in old age
– Kidney stones can be prevented by a healthy diet
– Type 1 diabetes, one of the most devastating diseases that children experience, is convincingly linked to infant feeding practices

Thomas Colin Campbell doesn’t claim to be a Vegan, although he has followed a wholefoods, plant based diet since 1990; he is interested and focused on research in the field of nutrition and human health. I could go on talking about this important piece of work but it really is best if you read the book for yourself. If you are like me, and you like to understand some of the science (repeatable, independently verifiable research) related to a wholefoods, plant based diet then I can recommend this book ‘The China Study’. Or maybe you just want to be better informed about what you and your family are eating ? Either way, this book is a great piece of work.

You can find the book on Amazon UK here :

The China Study on Amazon