Book Report: The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

China Study coverT. Colin Campbell, PhD had spent his earliest years as a nutrition expert in seeking to help malnourished children throughout the world. He was convinced that by increasing the protein consumption among these poor children, they would save lives. Because peanuts were the among the cheapest forms of protein and can be grown in most any climate, they had decided to use their charity platform to encourage the farming of peanuts.

About this same time, scientists had discovered that peanuts were sometimes contaminated with a fungus that produced a toxic substance known as aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is considered the most potent chemical carcinogen ever discovered, which made the prospect of feeding peanuts to poor children a problematic venture. While searching for a solution to this dilemma, Dr. Campbell was invited to the Philippines to study local populations where a high incidence of liver cancer had been linked to aflatoxin. Dr. Campbell learned that aflatoxin was the most potent chemical carcinogen yet discovered. In the Philippines, it was causing liver cancer in children even as young as four years of age.

After arriving in the Philippines, Dr. Campbell met with a surgeon who worked with these children. He was informed that liver cancer was most prevalent among the more affluent populations—those that consumed the highest levels of protein. This went against everything that Dr. Campbell had ever believed. He had dedicated his career to encouraging increased consumption of protein among poor populations. Yet, as he studied the medical histories of the afflicted children, he learned that it was indeed the most affluent families who were suffering the poorest health.

About the same time, Dr. Campbell read about a study that had been done in India. The researchers had given the rats aflatoxin, and then broke them into two groups. One group of rats was fed a 20% protein, and the second group was fed a 5% protein. It was discovered that 100% of the rats who were fed 20% protein developed cancer, while 0% of the rats who were fed 5% protein developed cancer. This was astounding, and yet it fit in with what Dr. Campbell was discovering in his own research.

He returned to the United States, where he received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to replicate the India study. He spent the next twenty years continuing to expand on that research, as study after study confirmed the original findings. Different carcinogens and different types of animal protein consistently interacted to produce cancer in the rats. The only exception that they could find in their research was when the rats were not being fed any animal based proteins. Rats fed even 20% plant-based protein did not develop cancer the way that rats fed animal-based proteins did.

This research stood him in good stead when he was asked to act as one of the directors of a team of scientists from Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. This team were to correlate findings between disease and lifestyles in 65 counties in China. They found that as meat consumption rose, in those counties that were becoming most westernized, the rates of certain diseases also rose—heart disease, prostate and breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, etc.

Given the preponderance of evidence, Dr. Campbell came to the conclusion that a diet based on whole (that is unrefined), plant foods is the best way to avoid our most common killer diseases. This book clearly outlines the scientific findings, and makes a strong case for a whole foods, plant based diet. You owe it to yourself, and to your loved ones, to read this book.


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