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From The Asian Reporter, V16, #10 (March 7, 2006), page 16.
The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health
By T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., with Thomas M. Campbell II
Benbella Books, 2005
Hardcover, 417 pages, $24.95
By Pamela Ellgen
In his book The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health, Dr. T. Colin Campbell presents years of research indicating a direct correlation between the typical Western diet and diseases including cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The book’s main message is that a diet rich in animal-based foods does not lend itself to health and vitality but to chronic disease and obesity. Dr. Campbell supports this position so well that readers may think twice before reaching for a hamburger, or even a glass of milk, again.
"Here in America, we are affluent, and we die certain deaths because of it," Campbell writes. "We eat like feasting kings and queens every day of the week, and it kills us."
Campbell first discovered a potential link between animal-based foods and disease while working in the Philippines in the 1970s. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Campbell’s initial goal was to encourage more consumption of "quality" protein, which at that time was considered primarily to be protein of animal origin. What he discovered, however, was that the significantly high levels of liver cancer among Filipino children were correlated to their consumption of animal-based foods.
This discovery led to years of lab work further implicating a correlation between animal-based food intake and cancer. In the lab, he exposed rats to carcinogens and then fed them normal levels of casein — the primary protein found in milk. His laboratory research confirmed his findings in the Philippines and eventually led to the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted: The China Study.
The study collected diet and health information from rural Chinese populations that were primarily of one ethnic group and lived in the same geographic location for most of their lives. Working with a team of world-class scientists, Dr. Campbell gathered data about everything from what these populations ate and what they weighed to how much they exercised and what they died from. Their research produced 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease. These results, combined with the research of other scientists, comprise most of The China Study.
With so much research indicating the dangers of an animal-based diet, it is no surprise that Dr. Campbell is a vegetarian. In the book, he offers a brief guide to obtaining proper nutrients without consuming animal products.
In a comparison of 500 calories of animal-based foods and 500 calories of plant-based foods, there is more fat and cholesterol in the animal-based foods, more fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants in the plant foods, and almost equal amounts of protein in each category.
"There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants," Dr. Campbell asserts.
Not only does The China Study implicate a diet rich in animal-based foods as a cause of disease, it levels harsh criticism against the medical and scientific industries, which have supported this diet for so long.
"There are some people in very influential government and university positions who operate under the guise of being scientific ‘experts,’ whose real jobs are to stifle open and honest scientific debate," Campbell writes. Why? "Perhaps they receive significant personal compensation for attending to the interests of powerful food and drug companies, or perhaps they merely have an honest personal bias toward a company-friendly viewpoint."
Thanks to The China Study, now the public has new and, from all appearances, solid health information to inform its choices. Though the book is heavy on medical jargon and statistics, it may help to lighten the ever-widening American public and improve our ability to avoid chronic disease.