The China Study Myth

Flaws in the Vegan Bible

The year 2006 marked an event that rocked the world of nutrition (as well as the walls of Whole Foods): the release of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Printed by a small publishing company known for other scientific masterpieces such as The Psychology of the Simpsons and You Do Not Talk About Fight Club, Campbell’s book quickly hit the word-of-mouth circuit and skyrocketed towards bestseller status, with sales exceeding half a million copies to date.

The premise is that all animal foods—ranging from Chicken McNuggets to a fillet of wild-caught salmon—are responsible for modern ailments like heart disease and cancer. Such diseases, the book claims, can generally be prevented or even cured by shunning animal products and eating a diet of whole, unprocessed plant foods instead.


Although this startling thesis was hard for some to swallow, the book appeared credible due to its exhaustive references and the author’s laundry list of credentials—including a PhD from Cornell, authorship of over three hundred scientific papers, and decades of direct research experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, The China Study was quickly absorbed into the vegan community as a bible of sorts—the final word on the harmfulness of animal foods, and indisputable proof that a plant-only diet is best for mankind. To the exasperation of meat lovers everywhere (especially those who enjoy arguing for sport), once lively debates with vegans were now extinguished with one simple phrase: Just read The China Study!

But despite the book’s black-and-white declarations about animal products—and its seemingly well-referenced arguments—The China Study is not a work of scientific vigor. As we’ll see in this article, the book’s most widely repeated claims, particularly involving Campbell’s cancer research and the results of the China-Cornell-Oxford Project, are victims of selection bias, cherry picking, and woefully misrepresented data.

Does Animal Protein Cause Cancer?

The seeds of animal-food doubt were first planted early in Campbell’s career, while he was working in the Philippines on a project to help combat malnutrition. A colleague informed him of a startling trend: liver cancer was plaguing affluent Filipinos at a much higher rate than their less-wealthy counterparts—a phenomenon that, despite a slew of other lifestyle differences, Campbell believed was linked to their higher intake of animal protein.1 Bolstering his suspicions, Campbell also learned of a recent study from India showing that a high protein intake spurred liver cancer in rats, while a low protein intake seemed to prevent it.2 Intrigued by this gem of little-known research, Campbell decided to investigate the role of nutrition in cancer growth himself—an endeavor that ended up lasting several decades and producing over one hundred publications (none of which pertained to Fight Club).3

The China Study relayed Campbell’s findings with powerful simplicity. In a series of experiments, Campbell and his team exposed rats to very high levels of aflatoxin—a carcinogen produced by mold that grows on peanuts and corn—and then fed them a diet containing varying levels of the milk protein casein. In study after study, the rats eating only 5 percent of their total calories as casein remained tumor-free, while the rats eating 20 percent of their calories as casein developed abnormal growths that marked the beginning of liver cancer. As Campbell described, he could control cancer in those rodents “like flipping a light switch on and off,” simply by altering the amount of casein they consumed.4

Despite these provocative findings, Campbell wasn’t ready to declare all protein a threat to public health and stamp the peanut butter aisle with Mr. Yuk stickers. Animal protein, it turned out, seemed to be uniquely villainous. In several of his experiments, when the aflatoxin-exposed rats were fed wheat protein or soy protein in place of casein, they didn’t develop any cancer—even at the 20 percent level that proved so detrimental with casein.5 It seemed that those plant proteins were not only PETA-approved, but also the least likely to turn rat livers into tumor factories.

These findings led Campbell to his firm and famous conclusion: that all animal protein—but not plant protein—could uniquely promote cancer growth. Out with the steak, in with the tofu! But as several critics have pointed out,6,7 that proclamation required a few somersaults of logic (and maybe some cartwheels of delusion). The effects of casein—particularly isolated casein, separated from other components of dairy that often work synergistically—can’t be generalized to all forms of milk protein, much less all forms of animal protein. An impressive number of studies shows that the other major milk protein, whey, consistently suppresses tumor growth rather than promoting it, likely due to its ability to raise glutathione levels.8,9 Another of Campbell’s own studies suggests that fish protein acts as a cancer-promoter when paired with corn oil, but not when paired with fish oil—highlighting the importance of dietary context (and the neverending terribleness of vegetable oils).10

And the kicker: one of Campbell’s most relevant experiments—which sadly received no mention in The China Study—showed that when wheat gluten is supplemented with lysine to make a complete protein, it behaves exactly like casein to promote tumor growth.11 This means that animal protein doesn’t have some mystical ability to spur cancer by mere virtue of its origin in a sentient creature—just that a full spectrum of amino acids provide the right building blocks for growth, whether it be of malignant cells or healthy ones. And as any vegan who’s been asked “Where do you get your protein?” for the eight hundredth time will answer, even a plant-only diet supplies complete protein through various mixtures of legumes, grains, nuts, vegetables, and other approved vegan fare. Theoretically, a meal of rice and beans would provide the same so-called cancer-promoting amino acids that animal protein does. Indeed, Campbell’s experiments lose their relevance in the context of a normal, real-world diet opposed to the purified menu of casein, sugar, and corn oil his rats received.

But that’s only the tip of the proteinaceous iceberg. In his September 2010 article, “The Curious Case of Campbell’s Rats,”12 Chris Masterjohn ventured beyond the well lit pages of The China Study to explore the dark alleys of Campbell’s publications firsthand. And what he found regarding the low-protein rats was a far cry from the sunshine-and-lollipops descriptions we read in the book. Although rats consuming a high-casein diet were indeed developing liver cancer as Campbell described, the ones in the low-casein groups—which were portrayed as downright bright-eyed and shiny-coated in The China Study—were suffering an even worse fate. Campbell’s research actually showed that a low-protein diet increases the acute toxicity of aflatoxin, resulting in cell genocide and premature death. Because protein deficiency prevents the liver from successfully doing its detoxifying duties, less aflatoxin gets converted into cancer-causing metabolites, but the end result is massive (and eventually deadly) tissue damage.

Even the research from India that jump-started Campbell’s interest in the diet-cancer link showed that rats on a low-casein diet were dying with disturbing frequency, while the high-protein rats—tumored as they may have been—were at least staying alive.13 (It’s surprising, then, that The China Study promotes a plant-based diet to prevent cancer, when death is equally effective and requires fewer shopping trips.)

More clues for understanding the casein-cancer research come from another Indian study—this one published in the late 1980s, and examining the effects of protein in aflatoxin-exposed monkeys instead of rats.14 As with Campbell’s experiments, the monkeys were fed diets containing either 5 percent or 20 percent casein, but with one important difference: instead of being slammed with an astronomically (and unrealistically) high dose of aflatoxin, the monkeys were exposed to lower, daily doses—mimicking a real-world situation where aflatoxin is consumed frequently in small amounts from contaminated foods. In a fabulous case of scientific switcheroo, this study showed that it was the low-protein monkeys who got cancer, while the high-protein monkeys rejoiced in their tumorlessness.

This apparent paradox highlights a major problem in Campbell’s rat research: the level of aflatoxin exposure plays a critical role in how protein affects cancer growth. When the aflatoxin dose is sky high, animals eating a low-protein diet don’t get cancer because their cells are too busy dying en masse, while animals eating a higher protein diet are still consuming enough dietary building blocks for the growth of cells—whether healthy or cancerous. When the aflatoxin dose is more moderate, animals eating a low-protein diet develop cancer while their higher-protein counterparts remain in mighty fine health.

In a nutshell, the animal protein fear-mongering in The China Study stems from wildly misconstrued science. What Campbell’s rat experiments really showed wasn’t that animal protein is a vengeful macronutrient of doom, but the following:

1. High-quality protein promotes cell growth no matter where it comes from;

2. Protein deficiency thwarts the liver’s ability to detoxify dangerous substances; and

3. With more realistic doses of aflatoxin, protein is actually tremendously protective against cancer, while protein-restricted diets prove harmful.

Did the Real China Study Show That Animal Foods Are Associated With Disease?

The China Study only devotes one chapter to its namesake study, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a doozy. Also known as the China-Cornell- Oxford Project, the China Study was an enormous epidemiological endeavor exploring diet and disease patterns in rural China—a project coined “the Prix of epidemiology” by the New York Times. Spanning sixty-five counties and collecting data on a whopping three hundred sixty-seven variables, it generated over eight thousand statistically significant correlations between nutrition, lifestyle factors and a variety of diseases.15

Although a project of such magnitude inevitably found some contradictory and non-causal links, Campbell asserts in his book that the data generally pointed in one direction: “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease,” and “People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.”16 Although—as echoes through the hearts of statisticians everywhere— correlation doesn’t equal causation, these associations in conjunction with Campbell’s other research are supposed to make a compelling case for animal foods being legitimately harmful.

But were the results of the China Study really a sparkling endorsement for plant-based eating?

It seems this conclusion is based, in large part, on unreliable blood variables rather than actual foods. In his book, Campbell states that he and his research team “found that one of the strongest predictors of Western diseases was blood cholesterol,”17 and proceeds to treat cholesterol as a proxy for animal food consumption. Throughout this chapter, we learn that the China Study data found associations between cholesterol and many cancers, as well as cholesterol and animal protein intake—implying that animal protein and those same cancers must themselves be intimately linked.

But because blood cholesterol can be affected by a number of non-dietary factors and can even rise or fall as a result of disease, examining the relationship between food itself and health outcomes is likely to be more informative than using cholesterol as an overworked, fickle middleman. But the direct relationship between animal protein and diseases isn’t discussed in The China Study for one monumental reason: that relationship doesn’t exist. An examination of the original China Study data shows virtually no statistically significant correlation between any type of cancer and animal protein intake.18 Only fish protein correlates positively, but probably non-causally, with a small number of cancers: nasopharyngeal cancer, a rare disease that only strikes one out of every seven million people; liver cancer, which shows up in fish-eating regions because aflatoxin proliferates in humid areas near water; and leukemia, which is likely linked to other elements of the industrialized lifestyles associated with coastal regions (and thus fish consumption) in the China Study.19

Ironically, when we look at plant protein— which The China Study argues so vigorously is cancer-protective—we find almost three times as many positive correlations with various cancers as we do with animal protein, including colon cancer, rectal cancer, and esophageal cancer.20 Likewise, for heart disease and stroke, plant protein has a positive correlation while animal protein and fish protein have negative or nearly neutral correlations—meaning the animal-food eaters in rural China, if anything, are getting less cardiovascular disease than their more vegetarian friends.

But matters get even more interesting when we look at some of the peer-reviewed papers generated by the China Study data, most of which are co-authored by Campbell himself. As with the casein research, the China Study findings as described in Campbell’s book are a hop, skip, and eighteen thousand jumps away from what the original research says. Although wheat gets nary a mention in the China Study chapter, Campbell actually found that wheat consumption—in stark contrast to rice—was powerfully associated with higher insulin levels, higher triglycerides, coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertensive heart disease within the China Study data—far more so than any other food.21,22 Likewise, in a paper from 1990, Campbell conceded that “neither plasma total cholesterol nor LDL cholesterol was associated with cardiovascular disease” in the China Study data, and that “geographical differences in cardiovascular disease mortality within China are caused primarily by factors other than dietary or plasma cholesterol”—revealing that not even the beloved cholesterol middleman could live up to its heart-disease-causing accusations. 23

And in the spirit of saving the best for last, another of Campbell’s own papers, published a mere two years before The China Study hit the shelves, states point-blank that—despite Campbell’s claims about the superior health of the near-vegan rural Chinese—“it is the largely vegetarian, inland communities who have the greatest all risk mortalities and morbidities and who have the lowest LDL cholesterols.”24 Maybe the lesson here is the same one we gleaned from Campbell’s rats: it’s pretty tough to get sick when you’re dead!

The Gist

Despite its increasing popularity (and glowing endorsements by high-profile vegan converts like Bill Clinton), The China Study is, in many ways, more a work of fiction than a nutritional holy grail. The book has spawned a number of myths about the hazards of animal protein and the true results of the China Study itself—myths that easily crumble under a scrutinizing eye, but nonetheless continue trickling into the mainstream and gaining mounting publicity.

If there’s anything positive to take away from the book’s four hundred seventeen pages, it’s the promotion of a whole-food diet—and the resulting elimination of vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, refined grains, and other industrial products that tend to displace real food on our modern menus. But for those seeking scientific literature of a higher caliber, The Psychology of the Simpsons is likely to be a more satisfying (and animal-product-friendly) read.

 


 

SIDEBAR

THE PLANT-BASED DIET DOCTOR SQUAD

DEAN ORNISH , MD: Limits sugar, corn syrup, white flour, margarine, vegetable oil, alcohol and any processed food with more than two grams of fat. Program involves smoking cessation, peer support, stress management and exercise.

CALDWELL ESSELSTYN, MD: Forbids vegetable oils, refined grains, white flour, and products made from enriched flour such as bread, pasta, bagels and baked goods. Uses statins to bring patients’ cholesterol levels below 150.

JOHN MCDOUGALL , MD: Limits white flour, refined grains, sugar-coated cereals, soft drinks, processed carbohydrates, fruit juice and vegetable oils.

NEAL BARNA RD, MD: Forbids vegetable oils, high-glycemic foods, high fructose corn syrup, caloric sweeteners and fried starches like potato chips and french fries.

JOEL FUHRMAN , MD: Excludes refined foods, including vegetable oils.

Getting rid of empty and refined foods, especially vegetable oils—the common denominator in all these plant-based prescriptions—will make for improvements in almost everyone. But long term, without nutrient-dense animal foods,
deficiencies will emerge.

 


 

REFERENCES

1. Campbell, T. Colin, PhD, with Thomas M. Campbell II . The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2004, p. 36.

2. Ibid, p.36.

3. Ibid, p. 48.

4. Ibid, p. 60.

5. Ibid, p. 59.

6. Masterjohn, Chris. “The Truth About the China Study.” http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study.html

7. Colpo, Anthony. “The China Study: More Vegan Nonsense!” http://anthonycolpo.com/?p=129

8. Bounous G., et al. Whey proteins in cancer prevention. Cancer Lett. 1991 May 1;57(2):91-4.

9. Hakkak R., et al. Diets containing whey proteins or soy protein isolate protect against 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumors in female rats. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Jan;9(1):113-7.

10. O’Connor, T.P. et al. Effect of dietary intake of fish oil and fish protein on the development of L-azaserine-induced preneoplastic lesions in the rat pancreas. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1985 Nov;75(5):959-62.

11. Schulsinger, D.A., et al. Effect of dietary protein quality on development of aflatoxin B1- induced hepatic preneoplastic lesions. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1989 Aug 16;81(16):1241-5.

12. Masterjohn, Chris. “The Curious Case of Campbell’s Rats—Does Protein Deficiency Prevent Cancer?” September 22, 2010. http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/cmasterjohn/2010/09/22/ the-curious-case-of-campbells-rats-does-protein-deficiency-prevent-cancer/

13. Madhavan, T.V. and C. Gopalan. “The effect of dietary protein on carcinogenesis of aflatoxin.” Arch Pathol. 1968 Feb;85(2):133-7.

14. Mathur, M. and N.C. Nayak. “Effect of low protein diet on low dose chronic aflatoxin B1 induced hepatic injury in rhesus monkeys.” Toxin Reviews. 1989;8(1-2):265-273.

15. Campbell, p. 73.

16. Ibid, p. 7.

17. Ibid, p. 77.

18. Junshi C., et al. Life-style and Mortality in China: A Study of the Characteristics of 65 Chinese Counties. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

19. Minger, Denise. “A Closer Look at the China Study: Fish and Disease.” June 9, 2010. http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/06/09/a-closer-look-at-the-china-study-fish-and-disease/

20. Minger, Denise. “The China Study: Fact or Fallacy?” July 7, 2010. http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

21. Gates J.R., et al. “Association of dietary factors and selected plasma variables with sex hormone-binding globulin in rural Chinese women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jan;63(1):22-31.

22. Fan W.X., et al. “Erythrocyte fatty acids, plasma lipids, and cardiovascular disease in rural China.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 Dec;52(6):1027-36.

23. Ibid.

24. Wang Y., et al. “Fish consumption, blood docosahexaenoic acid and chronic diseases in Chinese rural populations.” Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2003 Sep;136(1):127- 40.

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2012.

Denise Minger is a twenty-four-year-old health writer, editor, researcher, and blogger at www.rawfoodsos.com. Once a decade-long vegetarian, her own health journey inspired her to investigate the truth about nutrition, with a special focus on debunking bad science. Her upcoming book, Death By Food Pyramid, will be published in late 2012.

33 Responses to The China Study Myth

  1. cate says:

    What’s the truth?
    I’m puzzled by the conflicting information everywhere I turn re plant-based diet and consumption of animal products. I have read the China Study and agree that it seems extreme and wonder, also, about the science. Large studies like this can be interpreted in a variety of ways , some good, some not so good. I also subscribe the the WAPF philosophy. Sadly, especially as reflected by this article, the dialogue seems to be divided into teams, each having their own studies/science to support their point of view and a need to be right. This article would have been improved by less put-down of the other side and sticking to the facts as she see them. The somewhat snotty tone makes it sound like she has her own ax to grind.

    • Misnomer says:

      Vegan
      To Cate: More like Dr. Campbell has a vegan propaganda to spread. I believe any person with a brain for analysis and an intolerance for bull-crap would grind their ax on Dr. Campbell’s work.

    • PlantsRule says:

      Cate
      I also have trouble determining what is healthy and what is not because one day something is healthy and the next it give you cancer. The problem I find with a lot of the people trying to debunk Dr. Campbell’s China Study is that many of them are not as qualified as Dr. Campbell. Perhaps I missed it in the article above, but I do not see Denise’s credentials. I myself am not an expert in statistics, but I know that its not as simple as correlating two items together. It is much more than that. You must account for variables and things of that sort, which Dr. Campbell did in his book. Also, his book is not one study, it is a compilation of many studies and experiments that all lead him to the same conclusion over his career.

      The other thing that I do not see being mentioned in any of these anti-China Study write ups is the work of Dr. Essylsten. When switched to a plant based whole foods diet, his patients heart disease reversed, arteries became less clogged, they reduced the amount of medication they needed to take, and this all worked to the point where they no longer needed expensive and dangerous heart surgeries.

      This is why I have to side with the scientist who has a lifetime of work to back his claims.

  2. Randy says:

    Was there a motivation for Mr Campbell to arrive at these conclusions and publish them? Your article seems to imply that these conclusions should have been obviously incorrect and makes one wonder why someone with his knowledge and skill sets and apparent passion would knowingly mislead on a life and death topic??

  3. John Hristov says:

    personal experience
    I think one doesn’t need to argue, but just try it. I lost 40 kg of weight and started to run marathons and ultras since I went on a plant diet. Friends and relatives, including my wife, two of my brothers, my mother-in-law and my children demonstrate drastically improved or superior health when moved to plant diet. So, if you feel good on meat, go your way, but I know the huge difference it made for me and prefer the other way.

    So, as I said, it is easy. If you are corpse eater, try plant for a couple of months and make your mind. If you are veggie, try meat for a couple of months and decide (BTW I have a friend also, who was vegan for 15 years, and at the age of 28 (yes, she started vegan very early, her own decision) suddenly started to eat flesh. She told me she didn’t know why and she had no apparent reason.

  4. Liz says:

    I’d have to agree….
    …with the commentator John H. To each their own. Constantly, as Cate says in her comment, something is good for you and bad for you depending on who you ask. I just try things for myself. My body chemistry is different than yours so what works for me may not work for you. Therefore both the China Study and the above criticism must be taken with a grain of salt.

    For me it just so happens that a plant based partially raw diet (I also eat eggs and honey) is right for my body. My skin is clear, my nails are strong, I am energetic, my hair has less breakage, my cycles are less painful, my mood stays steady, I feel great after I eat, and I have even noticed less body odors smilies/grin.gif . (Sorry if TMI for anyone but we are on a healing arts domain.) With that said, my husband is the exact opposite and needs high protein to function at his best ability. Thus my opinion – “different strokes for different folks.”

  5. Margaret Robin says:

    Comments seem right on, article, not so much
    Ah – The China Study is sensationalized. That jumps out at the reader if you get to about the second third of the book. Unfortunately, this article is also sensationalized. What is a body to do? I could try to read the original research findings myself, but probably would be lost in medical vocabulary. I like the commentators here who do what they feel is right and do what works for them. The vegan diet works for me very well. I do supplement occasionally with brewers yeast, which might not be pure vegan?

  6. Timothy Wong says:

    person observation
    I personally have experience with the vegan diet, i never thought i can be a vegan but after watching forks over knife I was very impressed by the strong facts that support the benefits of vegan diet, but it’s not easy as meat does taste good and you do have more choices when you go eat out, and if you don’t live in SF, NYC, or bigger cities, it’s hard to find soy milk..they would be staring at you, like are you crazy? Anyway, my partner and his whole family has always been having high blood pressure issue, and his father and his uncle died fairly young because of a heart attack, he has been on a vegan diet for almost a year now, his blood pressure is back to normal, from 150/100 to 115/70, he was so shocked by that as he didn’t take any medication at all, that reinforce the idea that he should stick with his diet.
    I am here to say it may not work for everyone for having this very strict diet, but it definitely has some very powerful benefits considering our modern days diet essentially are very much processed and sugar packed. While not everyone who are animal eater would die young, but I strongly recommend the plant based diet is a healthier diet, my current diet consists of 80 to 90% of vegetables and whole grains, and the rest would be white meat and fish. No more red meat.

  7. Michael Ryan says:

    The commentary here does have a concensus: this article does not make the point it promises to make.
    The author, Denise Minger, starts her critique of “The China Study,” by asserting, “the book’s most widely repeated claims, particularly involving Campbell’s cancer research and the results of the China-Cornell-Oxford Project, are victims of selection bias, cherry picking, and woefully misrepresented data. She then goes on to make this case with exactly that.

    One need not be a scientist to know who is right. Two phrases in the article give it away: “meat lovers” and “PETA-approved.” The first is irrelevant in the search for scientific truth (food addictions are also well-documented) and the second is a sarcastic swipe at those who are drawn to veganism for moral reasons (as opposed to dietary-health alone).

    The useful parts of this page are within the reader comments, almost all of whom take issue with the article’s intention. I agree wholeheartedly with those who suggest that each individual must make up his or her own mind, about what is healthy for them, and what is not. I would also agree that the evidence of the benefits in a vegan diet (not to mention an even stricter regimen without processed foods, and without added salt, oil or sugar) is overwhelming. Just look at Bill Clinton (or would his being a liberal offend the meat-eating crowd?)

  8. Omnivore Searching says:

    Points taken
    The writer in this article definitely brings up very valid points about the selective reporting of research from The China Study. I am reading The China Study now and already and dubious about the simplicity and lack of follow-through on other cancer and illness factors, including other non-animal based foods, like wheat and corn for example. I am open to reading and learning what I can from this book, though today when reading another critique about the book I saw some quotes from the book that are really factually incorrect (which I even know). Campbell doesn’t know the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates, which for a nutrition scientist with decades of experience, is alarming. This leads me to wonder if our specialized nutritionists, though perhaps too broad to categorize, are really knowledgeable about health and vitality.

  9. Barcadero says:

    Caveat lector
    1. The Weston A. Price Foundation is funded by meat and fish producers.
    2. The China study was funded by universities and the Chinese government.
    3. This article does not address IGF-1.
    4. This article uses a rat study as a straw man for the population study.
    5. The data shows: whole-food plant-based diets reverses the top killers.
    6. The final quote is taken out of context. The inlanders were DHA deficient. Cancer was omitted, except liver cancer, which was positively correlated. Plant-based alternatives were shown to be as affective as DHA at deterring chronic diseases. Omega-3s from land animals (pigs, cows, etc.) were shown to not lower mortality or morbidity like DHA. Upshot: Some fish, or better yet, algae to avoid mercury concentration, is a good thing!
    7. Minger uses subjective language and ad hominem attacks. Nevertheless, she is a confident public speaker and arguably attractive, and thus many take her advice.
    8. Taking nutrition advice from paleontology …

  10. Eric says:

    What is truth
    I will side with the evidence….I have not seen nor heard of one instance where this data has been discounted. Only weak attempts at smashing the good news and information these scientists have PROVEN over and over and over again. To me, much of this starts and ends with the government organizations that “oversee” what it is that “we” need. What a pile of crap. These agencies are as corrupt as the administration. Really, it doesnt take a doctor to understand that the former CEO or board member of the Dairy Association should be making decisions as to what “we” need to have in our diet, and then no shock when there is an increase from 1 to 2 cups of “milk”. Get real people, we are being sold out to profit for companies that produce dairy and meat….if “anyone” was REALLY concerned about US, many practices would cease when it comes to animals….but NO ONE really cares about us….all dollars and cents. Look at Al “the idiot” Gore who curses those who drive SUV’s, and then hops in a private jet….wake up.

  11. debve says:

    too much focus on the protien. a skewed and slanted perspetive.
    hey you love to eat dead critters go for it. don’t try to justify it with documentation provided by the beef producers of america. there have been plenty of studies aside from this one that say basically the same thing. what about saturated fats, uric acid ect. it isn’t necessarily the protien itself it is the entire package. she even goes so far as to call it fiction.

  12. DeAngela Osborne says:

    sucking on a cow teat is just plain creepy
    What about WebMD or Harvard School of Public Health, are they credible sources? They seem to think that dairy products are not needed for health benefits. Additionally, Harvard School of Public Health believes milk recommendations are a “step in the wrong direction.”

    The Dairy Industry has done an outstanding job having us believe that we still need to suck on the teats of another species, it’s pretty gross really. Put it on our TV, have a celebrity endorse it, pay a few people off, tell us we need it, spend zillions on propaganda ads, and it could have been a dog. I’m no doctor, but this guy is. In fact, dairy was removed from “the healthy plate” by the Harvard School of Public Health a while back, not sure if everybody knew that or not.

    Walter Willett, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and head of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health says, “One of the main arguments for USDA recommendations is that drinking milk or equivalent dairy products will reduce the risk of fractures. But in fact there’s very little evidence that milk consumption is associated with reduced fractures,” Willett tells WebMD.

    Furthermore it’s linked to most of our common “manageable” diseases at this stage.

  13. Judith says:

    Brevity, please. I’m working on my diet, and trying to learn all the time. So naturally, what Denise Minger has to say is of interest to me. However, I wish she would stop tryng to sound so cute in her writing style. It doubles the number of words one has to get through, and just gets tiresome. There is way too much on the internet to read to slog through it.

  14. Pablo says:

    Wheat is already a complete protein
    LOL, it is the ratio what can be different to animal foods. Failed critic at this regard.

    Most plants are complete proteins, no missing aminoacids there.

  15. It’s just mean to bash vegan doctors and its meaner to slaughter, TORTURE, tens of billions of sentient beings for unnecessary flesh foods. It is really telling that our society is so rampant with predatory acts of violence when all it does is cannibalize its own young by teaching them to be predators, starting with their plates.
    NO WONDER the violence comes full circle. There are MORE Reasons NOT to consume sentient animals than economics or self gratification. Perhaps ALL your family members should work in a pig or calf slaughterhouse for a month! Or a chicken slaughter house where BABY birds are tortured to death after a life of trauma and stress. And this we call “FOOD?” OMG. The PROOF is in the fact that patients of many doctors using plant based nurtition as MEDICINE ARE Being cured and reducing medications or eliminating them, is PROOF enough. http://www.earthlings.com WATCH. What humanity does to other beings is abnormal and unholy. One reasoned look at our culture and we see the symptoms of our mindless violence to defenseless creatures. Is eating flesh and dairy really worth the death of our planet because that IS what’s happening….

  16. KathyBaja says:

    what’s lacking in The China Study and this commentary is the importance of sufficient protein….
    0.5 to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight a day, depending on your level of activity. So even for anorexic vegans, that’s at least 50 grams per day.

    Vegans can claim carrots and other veggies have sufficient protein. One large carrot has about 0.7 grams of protein. Go ahead, vegans, take all day to consume 100 carrots and you’ll get 70 grams. and have fun trying to find the rest of your MDR of protein in lettuce etc. Try Beans and Nuts instead, but it will still be a challenge to meet your protein MDR, unless you try a protein supplement like Medi-Clear. I make a smoothie using it every morning and get 32 grams of vegan protein, with only 1 gram of sugar. And I can run circles around the vegans and vegetarians I know.

    Vegans argue that we really don’t need that much protein. If so, why did my friend Kat’s gastrocnemius muscle begin to repair immediately after increasing her protein consumption from 15 grams a day to nearly 50 grams, while she suffered for 5 months before that with no improvement? why did another vegan who claims he gets enough protein from veggies have DOUBLE HERNIA surgery recently? Do you know how rare that condition is? Our abdominal muscle is incredibly strong, very hard to injure, since it encloses all our abdominal organs and supports our back muscles. But his body was apparently stealing protein from his abs, which tore, with the resultant protrusion of his intestines.

    BOTTOM LINE–THE BODY NEEDS PROTEIN TO BUILD AND REPAIR MUSCLES AND OTHER TISSUES. YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH, YOUR BODY STARTS STEALING IT FROM YOUR MUSCLES.

    Vegans also tout Olympic athlete Carl Lewis, who turmed vegan in 1991. Before going vegan, Lewis consistently dominated both sprinting and the long jump. After the heights reached in 1991, only 1 year after starting the vegan diet, Lewis started to lose his dominance in both the sprints and the long jump, and in 1992 failed to compete in events where he was formerly strong. http://www.bulletproofexec.com/carl-lewis-vegan/

    I hear story after story from vegans and non-vegans about problems with healing injuried muscle tissues, chronic back pain, and overweight (chronic hunger!) among vegans and vegetarians. Most are so busy patting themselves on the back about saving the world by not consuming those poor “helpless” creatures, they don’t think twice about their own health. There are lots of ways to save the world. If you vegans and vegetarians want to promote the health of the world, over which you have little control, over your own health, go for it, just stop preaching to the rest of us. I was a vegetarian for 20 years and am far more healthy and thinner now that I eat a little meat every week.

    finally, I’m a biologist. We have teeth called CANINES. They didn’t get there by accident.

    WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN HEALTH!

  17. food tales
    i’m a medical doctor and have seen personally how a plant based diet is clearly superior to a meat based diet. you can’t argue with clinical results and lab numbers. my patients with high cholesterol, blocked heart arteries, gout, diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle related diseases have all improved or even reversed their conditions with the switch from an animal product based diet to a largely plant based diet. those who benefited most were those who went for a purely whole foods, plant based diet. i have no doubt that Dr. Campbell’s findings are credible and true. i find that people who have either personal interests in the meat and dairy industry or who simply have a preference for eating meat and meat products because it tastes good and they feel they cannot live without it are the ones determined to put down people like Dr. Campbell who’s interest is for the good health of the public.

  18. David Smith says:

    Publisher of The China Study
    The initial straw man argument made by Denise Minger “the release of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Printed by a small publishing company known for other scientific masterpieces such as The Psychology of the Simpsons and You Do Not Talk About Fight Club” makes the rest of her article questionable at least and suspect at most. The publisher has an impressive list of authors,with mostly non-fiction titles: http://www.benbellabooks.com/

  19. Gabe says:

    Protein Myth
    This is in response to CathyBaja, are you serious? Obviously you do not know your nutrition AT ALL!!!! Did you realize that 1 cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein, that is 1 CUP!! Nuts, grains, tofu all have tons of protein. 1 cup of cooked Quinoa has 18 grams of protein!!!! You are making claims that are completely false and making connections where none exist. You say that your vegetarian friend got a hernia and you say he got that because he was not getting enough protein. By your logic a person who eats meat should never get a hernia. BUT HOLY CRAP THEY DO!!!. Protein intake has nothing to do with hernias you are making connnections where none exist. As far as Carl Lewis, HE TURNED VEGAN IN 1990!!!! Look it up, he credits 1991 to his turning Vegan and even though in 1992 he got beat in some qualifiers in the olympics in 92 he turned in the fastest anchor leg ever in the 4 by 100m and that record stood until 1997. Also he won his 3rd gold medal in the long jump in 1996, long after turning Vegan. Plus if you are a biologist then you know that our digestive track mimics that of a herbivore. All of what you say has absolutely no merit. You can be a vegetarian and Vegan and be in bad health, that is if you are one of those vegans that eats French Fries and Potato chips and thinks that is okay. There is plenty of bad food for vegans but if you eat right you can be way healthier then any meat eater.

  20. Daniel Silverstein says:

    Middle ground
    I think there definitely is a middle ground. From my experience counseling patients as a primary care physician, a whole foods diet generally holds promise for improving cardiovascular condition such as hypertension and general condition. The atkins type diet which is high in saturated fats is also beneficial for those trying to lose weight, and weight loss is one of the most important determinants of having a healthy blood pressure and vascular condition. I think the main point is that processed foods are always bad, and possibly by maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels down health can be achieved with or without a large component of animal protein.

  21. Perry Rose says:

    I had Chinese for lunch before I read this.

    What are the odds???

  22. Lorie says:

    We’re trying it
    My cholesterol has been going up 1 point every year since my 20’s. I have been meat-free for a year now. My new cholesterol reading, instead of going up 1 point this year, went DOWN 30 points. It is still high however so now I am going to go meat and dairy free for 3 months and see what happens.

  23. diane ekhoff says:

    Profits more important than health benefits
    Ever wonder why people are still smoking? Yes, there is money to be made. The Tobacco industry..yeah.
    Well, I am reading some of these comments, and some going in great length to discredit the China Study. READ IT FIRST.
    The biggest reason that it is not more widely known or promoted is this: The Meat Council, the Poulty Industry, The Pork industry ETC. Do you think they may have some MONIES pending on this study???? Its all about PROFIT folks.
    My friend who i thought was pretty fit, a body builder with maybe just a little too much bulk on him contracted prostate cancer. He ate ALOT of CHICKEN and broccoli. Probably up to 2 chicken breasts every night for a few years. Didn’t sound that bad. No red meat consumed. Bottom line, way too much protein consumed. These chicken breasts probably had growth promoting hormones in them too. Chicken breast of the 60’s 70’s were much smaller without these additives.
    Anyway, I digress, He has inoperable prostate cancer at this point.
    Personally I am sharing this book with everyone I know and care about. Most will go on with their current diets, it just easier, right…?
    My body, THANK GOD, has always refused to eat a lot of protein. Always made me feel kinda sick and heavy. I am 67. and told all the time how I look years younger.
    Do yourself a favor and read the China Study and figure it out for yourself. No cancer for me, thank you.
    PS obviously, goes without saying, eat Organic whenever possible.

    • Mark says:

      I cannot agree with you more Dianne, as a psychologist I just want to add that two primitive but potentially deadly defense mechanisms in the human psyche namely DENIAL and RATIONALIZATION can cost us our lives.

      We need to be pretty brainless if we are eating animal products which are pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics sprayed to keep them from loosing its red attractive color, packed in plastic and washed in ammonia to get it fresh again for human consumption.

      But then some of us are so far into denial that DENIAL “is only a river in Egypt!!”

  24. Dawn Juds says:

    Well, how very confusing when all I want to do is get well!
    I have read countless books over the years and tried many protocols and spent thousands of dollars all to no avail. A few points I have noticed are.

    1. Folks that change to a plant based diet do indeed improve their health, weight and look fresher and younger in the beginning.

    2. Over time it would appear that vegans develope some serious deficiencies.

    3. Heavily reliant meat eaters also develop health problems.

    Conclusion: eat a whole food plant based diet with some heathy fats and a little meat occasionally to keep the balance.

  25. Tanya says:

    What about almond milk? I tried it and found it to be a good alternative to whole milk or soy milk.

    In Colorado I found that all the little coffee shops offered almond milk. That doesn’t happen here in Texas.

    I am currently ready “The China Study”. I am finding it quite interesting.
    The doctor that I saw about my high blood pressure refered it to me. My blood pressure has come down a lot with this new way of eating for me. I still indulge on vacations, but overall I am thrilled to have this information.

  26. Joan B. says:

    I highly recommend reading The China Study, as well as other books written by the doctors mentioned in this article’s Sidebar: Plant-Based Diet Doctor Squad. (The only reading I would actually ignore is the sarcastic unscientific article, Flaws in the Vegan Bible.) After having heart bypass surgery and reading several of these books, I decided to go Vegan 3 years ago. As a result, after 10 years of meds, I am no longer diabetic, I reversed my severe heart disease to the almost-disbelief of my cardiologist; I no longer have high blood pressure, and don’t have any stomach ailments. I will say, in addition to going vegan I also eliminated added sugar and fats and only eat whole grains. Almost incidentally, I lost a lot of weight and gained a huge amount of energy. Was it hard? Actually no, once I realized how abundantly the earth provides. The food I’m eating now is so satisfying; the simpler the better. And I love knowing my food now comes from the earth and doesn’t involve the suffering or slaughter of any animals.

  27. Valerie J James says:

    You might be interested to view T. Colin Campbell’s recent interview (June 11th, 2014), below:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7rshjAZuzg

  28. Charles Brown says:

    Hmmmm…

    Just finished reading “The China Study” after it was recommended by my older brother (a dentist) and his wife (a doctor). Like them, I have embraced and implemented the recommended dietary advice offered in the book (as well as the book, “My Beef With Meat.”

    I was only going to do the diet for 2 months max, if nothing ‘spectacular’ happened. Fast forward 2 months and not only am I still doing this “diet” but I have every intention of sticking with it – no problem – the rest of my life.

    …Why? Because even though I was already in great shape for a 55 year old and was eating what would otherwise be considered a ‘balanced diet,’ I’ve felt sooooo much better! I’ve doubled my running distance and I can sprint now – something I figured was permanently in my past. It’s been such an improvement that I actually wondered if something else was going on – but this is the only thing in my life I’ve changed (except for doing forefoot running instead of my heel-to-toe method I’d been using for 35 years).

    I have needed less sleep – because the sleep I do get is better quality – my joints feel better (which is probably why I can run so much farther. In fact I feel 20 years younger. And it’s true – I feel full sooner and don’t have the hunger for sugar and fatty foods like I had. (I never was a huge overeater, but I did love desserts and buttered bread and so forth.)

    It really has amazed me the difference. I could go on but it’s getting late. For me the proof is in the pudding. Nobody could convince me otherwise.

    And oh, almost forgot, there will always be naysayers for popular books on any subject – especially about diets and nutrition. The difference, however, is peer-reviewed and independently corroborated evidence by professionals who have done heaps of post-doctoral research and spent their whole lives trying to do what’s right to help people – vs the rest of us ‘normal folks’ ;-)

    …Anyway, it’s often us ‘normal folks’ who so often try to ‘debunk’ professionals without anywhere near the experience or education. (trying to be nice here to the author of the article/post I’m responding to ;-)

    Charles

  29. RJWenzel says:

    Charles, one doesn’t need to be any kind of an expert to use their own brain. The people debunking Campbell’s work are presenting solid evidence found right within his own work which shows that he’s been playing fast and loose with the data. And I might add that the interesting thing about Dr. Campbell’s work is that it HAS NOT been peer reviewed, and it lies in contention with several other studies done by equally esteemed and credentialed scientists, whose work actually HAS been peer reviewed. I would also add that Campbell made quite a lot of money on all of this and the people debunking don’t make a dime spending the time to point out his work’s deficiencies. So you might want to be careful talking about people who “spent their whole lives trying to do what’s right to help people” when you do not, in fact, know why any of the people involved did what they did.

    As for your own experiences, I’m glad to hear you’re doing well on the diet. As has been proven, a vegetarian diet clearly works for some people, and it clearly does not work for others. Reference this article http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/01/08/chris-masterjohn-criticism-of-the-china-study.aspx

    The detractors are not claiming that it doesn’t work for anybody, they’re merely refuting Campbell’s claims that it DOES work for everybody, and they’re also refuting his wild claims about cancer – using Campbell’s own data against him. I can’t see how that would be a problem for anybody, unless they didn’t read the information presented or didn’t understand it.

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