THE CHINA STUDY—a book review by Patty Butts, Ph.D.
“The China Study,” by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, one of the world’s most respected nutrition authorities, is the largest and most comprehensive study ever done on diet, disease and nutrition. The New York Times called it the “Grand Prix,” of nutrition. After 34 years of solid scientific research, findings indicated that advanced heart disease, relatively advanced cancers of certain types, diabetes and a few other degenerative diseases can be reversed by diet. The China Study was the culmination of a twenty year partnership with Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine and was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Campbell’s interest was peaked about the effect of diet on disease when he was doing a nationwide project in the Philippines working with malnourished children. Their goal was to have the children consume more corn and peanuts to improve the consumption of protein. At the time, the Philippines had a high prevalence of liver cancer among children and it was assumed this was among the poor children. At first, the team working with Campbell thought the cause could be a mold toxin called aflatoxin found in peanuts and corn (also in stored wheat and grains), something they had not been aware of prior to the study. Aflatoxin has been called one of the most potent carcinogens ever discovered. The project to feed more corn and peanuts was soon abolished and more research was done. Collin found the children who ate the highest-protein diets were the ones most likely to get liver cancer. They were from the wealthiest families.
Dr. Campbell then found research from India that had studied two groups of rats. In one group, they administered high doses of aflatoxin and fed them a diet of 20% animal protein, a level that many of us consume in the West. In the other group they gave the same carcinogenic amount of aflatoxin, but fed this group of rats a diet of 5% protein. Every animal that consumed the 20% protein diet had evidence of liver cancer, and every single animal that consumed a 5% animal protein (sometimes casein from milk), avoided liver cancer. Dr. Campbell and his group replicated this study over and over, always with the same results.
The team then studied the diets of over 6500 people from 64 counties in China. This was a longitudinal study. Blood and urine tests were taken from all participants. Researchers spent time in the homes to determine the diets and foods participants were eating. Environmental issues were examined. There were over 8000 statistically significant results from this study.
The evidence to support that animal protein increased tumor development while nutrients from plant-based foods decreased tumor development was statistically significant throughout all of the studies.
Campbell writes, “We now have a deep and broad range of evidence showing that a whole foods, plant-based diet is best for cancer.” But, he doesn’t stop there; he includes heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, kidneys, bones, eyes and brains.
America’s health is failing even though we spend more per capita on health care than any other society in the world. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third or our children are either overweight or at risk of becoming so. More than 15 million Americans have diabetes and we fall prey to heart disease as often as we did thirty years ago. The War on Cancer is a continuous battle. “The issues all come down to three things, breakfast, lunch and dinner.”