The China Study re-visited




So why don’t we know about The China Study? I say we – I didn’t – until 2015. Why hadn’t I read this book? I kept myself up-to-date, read the BMJ and Lancet. But this type of research just doesn’t feature heavily in the mainstream medical press. Anyway, no use crying over spilled milk!! Back to 2015 – The Victory family were visiting Florence in May of that year. Hungry, and looking for a healthy eatery we came across a “fast-food” vegan restaurant.

Quite yummy and I noticed on a shelf, multiple copies of a book named “The China Study”. I got up from my seat and leafed through the pages – it looked really interesting. As time has passed and I have researched dietary solutions, The China Study is mentioned often. However, as often as it is cited I see web articles describing how the study has been de-bunked. Debaters describe the China Study as flawed. At first glance it looks to me like a major piece of science. So, finally I listened to “The China Study” on Audible.

It is fascinating, such a great story. A plausible biological mechanism to explain why cancer rates are lower in certain areas of the world and higher in others. Broadly speaking ,cancer rates are much higher in urban areas, industrialised countries. T Colin Campbell and his research team postulate that animal protein, particularly the milk protein casein provide a set-up for the development of cancer.

I am aware of the criticisms – the researchers used a proxy indicator of animal protein intake – the serum cholesterol. After all most of the cholesterol we eat comes from animals and the rest is made by the liver. So the China Study – which is actually a book not a peer-reviewed paper cannot show direct causation or even a direct correlation. However, the big picture here is so striking, so profound, so important: there are hotspots and cold spots around the world for disease. In some areas of the world there is simply no cancer or heart disease. None. Conclusions must be drawn from this and other studies that some aspect of the western diet is involved in the initiation, and promotion of atherosclerosis and also tumours. It seems to me that the critics are concentrating on the minutiae and ignoring the big picture.

This research does not deserve to be suppressed, ignored or hidden. And it is the big picture which has biological plausibility! This should be feeding future research. There is so much more evidence now supporting T Colin Campbell’s hypothesis – migration studies for instance. Natives of rural areas (and their descendants) migrating to urban areas where the Standard American Diet is prevalent eventually succumb to the Western chronic diseases. Lactose intolerant individuals appear to have markedly lower rates of breast, prostate and ovarian cancer – why? – well they get tummy ache when they eat lactose-containing dairy – so they tend to avoid dairy produce….

Whatever you do – choose to make some change – the status quo appears to be creating a sick population! The balanced diet, eat in moderation etc. – how effective has that been? The answer – it hasn’t  – the balanced diet is feeding the epidemic of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer in the West and now in the Eastern countries that are becoming industrialised. I have been following a plant based diet for several years now. My dietary history has been of a tendency to reduced animal and dairy intake over the last 25 years. Initially I cut out meat, but did not become vegan until recently. The source of protein in my diet switched from meat to fish and dairy, with ever increasing amounts of milk and cheese based foods. I realise now this was a mistake and I should have taken the plunge to become vegan a lot earlier. For me – I was given an extreme diagnosis and have needed to take extreme measures. Does this suit everyone? Perhaps not – but if you cannot give up animal protein altogether there are still ways to make the diet more healthy – eating organic meat that is not factory-farmed (free of hormones and antibiotics). Perhaps eat meat less often. Perhaps switch to a non-dairy milk that is palatable. Or switch from cow’s milk to sheep or goat products (there are many healthy centenarians in Sardinia where pecorino cheese is a staple – you would need to do your own research on the risks / benefits of different types of alternative dairy).

Just to finish, here is a Dr. Michael Greger video that just about clinches the argument for me:

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