The China Study by T Colin Campbell & Thomas M Campbell
Startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health
(National Best Seller Book)
Even though information and opinions are plentiful, very few people truly know what they should be doing to improve their health.
Some of the findings, published in the most reputable scientific journals, show that:
• Dietary change can enable diabetic patients to go off their medication.
• Heart disease can be reversed with 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.
• Antioxidants, 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 can befall a child, is convincingly linked to infant feeding practices
In fact, dietary protein proved to be so powerful in its effect that we could turn on and turn off cancer growth simply by changing the level consumed.
In this project, however, I uncovered a dark secret. Children who ate the highest-protein diets were the ones most likely to get liver cancer! They were the children of the wealthiest families.
We found that not all proteins had this effect. What protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow's milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy.
People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. So, what is my prescription for good health? In short, it is about the multiple health benefits of consuming plant-based foods, and the largely unappreciated health dangers of consuming animal-based foods, including all types of meat, dairy and eggs. The scientific basis for my views is largely empirical, obtained through observation and measurement.
Cancer proceeds through three stages: initiation, promotion and progression. What implants / initiates cancer-prone cells? Chemicals that do this are called carcinogens. These chemicals are most often the byproducts of industrial processes, although small amounts may be formed in nature, as is the case with aflatoxin. These carcinogens genetically transform, or mutate, normal cells into cancer-prone cells. A mutation involves permanent alteration of the genes of the cell, with damage to its DNA.
The entire initiation stage (Chart 3.1) can take place in a very short period of time, even minutes. It is the time required for the chemical carcinogen to be consumed, absorbed into the blood, transported into cells, changed into its active product, bonded to DNA and passed on to the daughter cells.
Promotion is reversible, depending on whether the early cancer growth is given the right conditions in which to grow. This is where certain dietary factors become so important. These dietary factors, called promoters, feed cancer growth. Other dietary factors, called anti-promoters, slow cancer growth.
The third phase, progression, begins when a bunch of advanced cancer cells progress in their growth until they have done their final damage.
From our extensive research, one idea seemed to be clear: lower protein intake dramatically decreased tumor initiation, This finding, even though well substantiated, would be enormously provocative for many people.
Foci are precursor clusters of cells that grow into tumors. Although most foci do not become full-blown tumor cells, they are predictive of tumor development. Foci development was almost entirely dependent on how much protein was consumed, regardless of how much aflatoxin was consumed!
According to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein consumption, we humans should be getting about 10% of our energy from protein. There are about thirteen grams of protein in 100 calories of porterhouse steak (just over one and a half ounces).
In these experiments, plant protein did not promote cancer growth, even at the higher levels of intake. Gluten, the protein of wheat, did not produce the same result as casein, even when fed at the same 20% level. Rats fed 20% soy protein diets did not form. early foci, just like the 20% wheat protein diets. Suddenly protein, milk protein in this case, wasn't looking so good. We had discovered that low protein intake reduces cancer initiation and works in multiple synchronous ways.
In the early 1970s, the premier of China, Chou EnLai, was dying of cancer. In the grips of this terminal disease, Premier Chou initiated a nationwide survey to collect information about a disease that was not well understood. It was to be a monumental survey of death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer for more than 2,400 Chinese counties and 880 million (96%) of their citizens. The survey was remarkable in many ways. It involved 650,000 workers, the most ambitious biomedical research project ever undertaken. The end result of the survey was a beautiful, color-coded atlas showing where certain types of cancer were high and where they were almost nonexistent.
We assembled a world-class scientific team to look closely on China Study. It was to be the first major research project between China and the United States. We cleared the necessary funding hurdles, weathering both CIA intrusiveness and Chinese government reticence.
When we were done we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet and disease variables. We had a study that was unmatched in terms of comprehensiveness, quality and uniqueness. We had what the New York Times termed "the Grand Prix of epidemiology." In short, we had created that revealing snapshot of time that we had originally envisioned
In America, 15-16% of our total calories comes from protein and upwards of 80% of this amount comes from animal-based foods. But in rural China only 9-10% of total calories comes from protein and only 10% of the protein comes from animal-based foods. (For an American adult male of seventy seven kilograms, calorie intake will be about 2,400 calories per day. For an average rural Chinese adult male of seventy-seven kilograms, calorie intake will be about 3,000 calories per day.)
We compared the prevalence of Western diseases in each county with diet and lifestyle variables and, to our surprise; we found that one of the strongest predictors of Western diseases was blood cholesterol.
There are two main categories of cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is present in the food we eat. It is a component of food, much like sugar, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. This cholesterol is found only in animal-based food and is the one we find on food labels. This second type of cholesterol, blood cholesterol, is made in the liver. Blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol, although chemically identical, do not represent the same thing. Dietary fats and cholesterol don't necessarily turn into body fat and blood cholesterol. The way the body makes body fat and blood cholesterol is extremely complex, involving hundreds of different chemical reactions and dozens of nutrients. Because of this complexity, the health effects of eating dietary fat and dietary cholesterol may be very different from the health effects of having high blood cholesterol (what your doctor measures) or having too much body fat.
Lower blood cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer and other Western diseases, even at levels far below those considered "safe" in the West. In brief, animal based foods were correlated with increasing blood cholesterol. With almost no exceptions, nutrients from plant-based foods were associated with decreasing levels of blood cholesterol.
This connection of breast cancer with dietary fat, thus with animal based foods, brought into consideration other factors that also place a woman at risk for breast cancer:
• Early age of menarche (age of first menstruation)
• High blood cholesterol
• Late menopause
• High exposure to female hormones
Fiber was able to pull water from the body into the intestines to keep things moving along. These undigested fibers, like stick-urn paper, also gather up nasty chemicals that find their way into our intestines and that might be carcinogenic. If we don't consume enough fiber, we are susceptible to constipation-based diseases (these include large bowel cancer, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and varicose veins).
The most significant vitamin C association with cancer was its relationship with the number of cancer-prone families in each area. When levels of vitamin C in the blood were low, these families were more likely to have a high incidence of cancer. Vitamin C primarily comes from fruit, and eating fruit was also inversely associated with esophageal cancer. II 43 Cancer rates were five to eight times higher for areas where fruit intake was lowest. The same vitamin C affect existing for these cancers also existed for coronary heart disease, hypertensive heart disease and stroke. Vitamin C intake from fruits clearly showed a powerful protective effect against a variety of diseases. : if you want vitamin C or beta-carotene, don't reach for the pill bottle-reach for the fruit or leafy green vegetables
Framingham Heart research doctors noticed the ongoing research at the time and made some common-sense connections. They realized that:
• Excess fat and cholesterol consumption caused atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries and the accumulation of plaque) in experimental animals
• Eating cholesterol in food caused a rise in cholesterol in the blood
• High blood cholesterol might predict and/or cause heart disease
• Most of the world's population didn't have heart disease, and these heart disease-free cultures had radically different dietary patterns, consuming less fat and cholesterol
There are two different types of carbohydrates: refined carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are the starches and sugars obtained from plants by mechanically stripping off their outer layers, which contain most of the plant's vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. This "food" (regular sugar, white flour, etc.) has very little nutritional value. Foods such as pastas made from refined flour, sugary cereals, white bread, candies and sugar-laden soft drinks should be avoided as much as possible. But do eat whole, complex carbohydrate-containing foods such as unprocessed fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grain products like brown rice and oatmeal. These unprocessed carbohydrates, especially from fruits and vegetables, are exceptionally health-promoting.
Another lifestyle choice that is clearly important for this disease is exercise. Increased exercise is convincingly associated with less colorectal cancer.
Dairy intake is "one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature," and those who consume the most dairy have double to quadruple the risk.
The first mechanism concerns a hormone that increases cancer cell growth, a hormone that our bodies make, as needed. This growth hormone, Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-l), is turning out to be a predictor of cancer just as cholesterol is a predictor for heart disease. The second mechanism relates to vitamin D metabolism. This "vitamin" is not a nutrient that we need to consume. Our body can make all that we need simply by being in sunlight fifteen to thirty minutes every couple of days.
In addition to the production of vitamin D being affected by sunlight, it is also affected by the food that we eat. The main component of this process is an active form of vitamin D produced in the body from the vitamin D that we get from food or sunshine. This active or "supercharged" D produces many benefits throughout the body, including the prevention of cancer, autoimmune diseases and diseases like osteoporosis.
To review the mechanisms:
• Animal protein causes the body to produce more IGF-l, which in turn throws cell growth and removal out of whack, stimulating cancer development.
• Animal protein suppresses the production of "supercharged" D.
• Excessive calcium, as found in milk, also suppresses the production of "supercharged" D.
• Supercharged" D is responsible for creating a wide variety of health benefits in the body. Persistently low levels of supercharged D create an inviting environment for different cancers, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and other diseases.
Cow~ milk may cause one of the most devastating diseases that can befall a child. Cow's milk consumption by children zero to fourteen years of age in twelve countries shows an almost perfect correlation with Type 1 diabetes. 28 The greater the consumption of cow's milk, the greater the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes.
Eight Principles of Food and Health
PRINCIPLE # 1
Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Vitamin supplements are not a panacea for good health.
There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.
Genes do not determine disease on their own. Genes function only by being activated, or expressed, and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed.
Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals.
The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis).
Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.
Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.