Friday, July 15, 2011

The China Study

The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell III

Why did I become vegan overnight? What made me say goodbye to fried chicken, ice cream, and milk chocolate? (Confessional: Although, I did have a few "cave ins" for Red Velvet Cake, peanut butter brownie, and cheesecake.) What evidence compelled me that being vegan was the right decision? Well, much of it began with the evidence presented in The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II (father-son team). Be warned! This book could change your life. From The Kind Diet to the Anti-Cancer to Skinny Bitch (all three book titles are reviewed on this blog) to Bill Clinton (click to see how Clinton became vegan to combat his heart disease), The China Study has been cited as a "breakthrough" in preventive nutrition. "Preventive" is only part of the fun. We are talking about regressing and reversing disease too. Author T. Colin Campbell, primary researcher of the China Study, discusses the significant evidence that a whole foods, plant-based diet can prevent and slow growths of such chronic diseases as cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. The preliminary studies for the China Study began while T. Colin Campbell was researching the incidence of liver cancer amongst children in the Philippines. He discovered that there was a higher prevalence of this disease among more affluent communities (where a more Western diet was consumed) than among the poorer. In addition, he learned about an Indian study that showed rats who received higher doses of animal protein developed cancers when a carcinogen was administered. The rats who did not develop cancer received far less animal protein. The cancerous tumour growth rates in the rats could be "turned on and off" by adjusting the animal protein intake. (I do not promote for studies on animals.) These results were so impressive to Campbell that he decided to repeat the India study. Enter the China Study. Often genetics are designated as the primary causes of many chronic diseases. What Campbell is saying is that heredity accounts for a much smaller source of chronic disease than we originally thought. Campbell claims that it is diet that has far more influence on the outcomes of chronic diseases and by eating a whole food plant-based diet, we get sick a lot less than a Western diet which consists of high amounts of animal protein. In order to "rule out" the genetic factor (and building on the earlier work of Chou EnLai and 650, 000), Campbell joined forces with Dr. Junshi Chen and thousands of researchers in China, where the genetic population is 87% homogeneous (genetically of the same ethnic group, the Han people, in other countries like the United States there is more genetic differences), to research dietary correlations with disease. Selecting China for this study means that for a large part, the genetic influence on the occurrence of disease is eliminated. The whole study took over twenty years. What did they find? Over 8, 000 associations between dietary factors and disease. (All of which are too voluminous to mention in this book.) To embrace the China Study, you got to throw out everything you learned in health class. First of all, Campbell claims that most of the health curriculum that is taught in public and medical schools is a result of a corporate agenda. (I recall coming up with milk advertisements to be read over the public announcement system as a student council executive in high school.) Second, you got to accept and see evidence of the conspiracy in place to keep people sick and make profits for the pharmaceutical industries and technologies. Third, you got to try out a whole foods plant-based diet for yourself and watch your bones get stronger, your blood sugar-levels normalize, as well as your cholesterol, blood pressure, and cancerous tumours regress, and your weight drop. Fourth, you have to understand the mainland Chinese diet vastly differs from the Western diet. The Chinese diet is high-fibre, high-calorie, low-fat, high plant-protein, and predominantly plant-based. However this is changing in some areas of China and as those diets become more Westernized (high-fat, high animal protein, low fibre) so are the increased incidents of chronic disease. In fact, there have been studies suggested by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and others which show a much higher increase of chronic diseases among third and fourth generation Chinese and Japanese living in America than those individuals who still live in China and Japan. Note: Most of the world lives on a plant-based diet which is why you can find awesome vegan dishes at restaurants of the Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, etc. variety. Lastly, you got to read the book The China Study. Why haven't you heard this information before? Well, when you have an unpopular idea, against the status quo, and especially when your evidence is so compelling, you get shunned. Campbell, Esseltyn, and others have been accused of quackery and "false miracle cures". Campbell provides several negative examples of the repercussions of speaking your mind and showing compelling evidence. Unfortunately, there are not enough practitioners in the medical establishment who want to change their methods. And not enough medical practitioners have a sufficient knowledge of nutrition which is still considered a "soft science". Most medical practitioners rely on "hard science" surgery, technology, and pharmaceuticals but these often have side effects (which is why other medications or treatments are prescribed) and do not offer cures. A serious and sobering statistic: Twenty percent of all new drugs have serious unknown side effects, and more than 100, 000 Americans die every year from correctly taking their properly prescribed medication (page 335). Alternative medicine is still seen by some as uneffective and airy fairy although our ancestors understood the importance of these methods. (I experienced this as I told my endocrinologists and anathesiologist that I see a naturopath.) Campbell (and Esselstyn) experienced such resistance from his colleagues about recommending plant-based diets to heart disease patients because they claimed that people do not want to change. Please Note: I am not knocking the use of medicine or technology here. I am advocating for the implementation of nutritional prevention which will aid the healing process and decrease the need for invasive methods such as surgery and medicines. I believe in multi-faceted approaches to attack disease. I myself have integrated surgery, radiation, Traditional Chinese medicine (cupping, herbs, and acupuncture), naturopathy (homeopathics, herbs), counselling, art therapy, Reiki, community/social/church support, my faith, yoga, and dietary changes into my own healing program. These all have been helpful in making me feel healthy and stronger. Ironically, it was these same colleaguessaw Campbell and Esselstyn for preventive nutritional voice on their own heart disease (and sent their families to them). Another thing I learned is the importance of eating whole foods as opposed to everything in itemized vitamin and mineral tablets. This was also mentioned in Foods That Fight Cancer. How does this all relate to the origin of my thyroid cancer? Well, you will find out some of my thoughts in my upcoming article, Why Do I Have Thyroid Cancer? In the meantime, spend the $ 20 and read the almost 400 pages of The China Study. It is worth it. For the movie version, watch Forks Over Knives playing at an independent theatre near you. You know when you find out something so amazing, some wonderfully great news and you want everyone to know, yeah, well this is it!

Coming up next: Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s

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