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Showing 1-25 of 96 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 16, 2008 6:20:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2008 4:39:07 PM PDT
I was surprised to find the actual datasets published on the Web. ( The data is in an Excel friendly format so many of us can manipulate the data and see for ourselves what we think it says to us.

My day-job is analyzing hard drive failure statistics that result from usage and stress testing; I get paid to make the problems being studied "go away". I have also recently had a triple bypass, so here I have applied my skills to something much more personal. I want to know what I should eat to improve my health.

I took a close look at the 1989 dataset because I had read about China's governmental response to the finding that unenriched bleached wheat flour was causing heart disease ( As I was aware of the recent addition of folic acid to bread in the US and Canada, I was motivated to check this out for myself. I recommend doing this analysis for yourself (or find somebody who is good at math whom you trust to do it for you).

I ran multiple variable regression analysis against items of interest to me like "All vascular disease" and Stroke; comparing the ability of blood plasma and the diet items to explain heart disease. The following lists are what I found the data to say.

These are lists of the ratio of improvement (-) or harm (+) between the diet low and high values, the confidence of the finding, followed by descriptors of the diet item. For instance, the people who ate the most animal protein had 68.9% less heart disease (at 95% confidence) than those people who ate the least animal protein. The people who ate the most plant protein had 64.9% more heart disease (at 89% confidence) than those people who ate the least plant protein.

My findings are collected into three groupings - Diet Factors, Blood Plasma and Amino-Acids

M059 ALLVASCc mortality ALL VASCULAR DISEASE AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/1,000) (IC

-70.7 93 231 D005 %FATKCAL diet survey PERCENTAGE OF CALORIC INTAKE FROM FAT (fo
-68.9 95 262 D036 %ANIMPROT diet survey PERCENTAGE ANIMAL PROTEIN INTAKE (for ref
-55.6 90 255 D029 ANIMFOOD diet survey ANIMAL FOOD INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-54.8 89 260 D034 ANIMPROT diet survey ANIMAL PROTEIN INTAKE (g/day/reference ma
-54.1 90 278 D052 FISH diet survey FISH INTAKE (g/day/reference man, as-cons

-49.5 84 228 D002 TOTFAT diet survey TOTAL LIPID INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-49.1 87 258 D032 %ANIMFOOD diet survey PERCENTAGE ANIMAL FOOD INTAKE (for refere
-48.4 83 275 D049 MEAT diet survey MEAT INTAKE (red meat and poultry) (g/day
-46.6 81 276 D050 REDMEAT diet survey RED MEAT (pork, beef, mutton) INTAKE (g/d
-40.7 89 263 D037 RICE diet survey RICE INTAKE (g/day/reference man, air-dry
-38.0 84 237 D011 TOTCAROT diet survey TOTAL CAROTENOID INTAKE (retinol equivale
-36.0 84 277 D051 POULTRY diet survey POULTRY INTAKE (g/day/reference man, as-c
-35.3 84 238 D012 VITA diet survey TOTAL VITAMIN A INTAKE (retinol equivalen
-32.3 71 242 D016 RIBOFLAV diet survey RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2) INTAKE (mg/day/re
-28.6 80 282 D056 STCHSUGAR diet survey PROCESSED STARCH AND SUGAR INTAKE (g/day/
-27.4 79 288 D062 LIQUOR diet survey LIQUOR INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-26.3 74 236 D010 RETINOL diet survey RETINOL INTAKE (retinol equivalents/day/r

-23.1 75 287 D061 WINE diet survey WINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-21.7 72 274 D048 EGGS diet survey EGG INTAKE (g/day/reference man, as-consu
-20.4 71 269 D043 GREENVEG diet survey GREEN VEGETABLE INTAKE (g/day/reference m
-20.0 75 240 D014 VITC diet survey VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID) INTAKE (mg/day/
-19.3 67 267 D041 LEGUME diet survey LEGUME AND LEGUME PRODUCT INTAKE (g/day/r
-16.8 69 286 D060 BEER diet survey BEER INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-13.2 65 281 D055 ADDEDFAT diet survey TOTAL ADDED FAT (5144 + 5145) INTAKE (g/d
-12.3 66 243 D017 NIACIN diet survey NIACIN INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)

18.8 79 283 D057 ADDEDSALT diet survey INTAKE OF ADDED SALT (g/day/reference man
24.4 75 273 D047 MILK diet survey MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS INTAKE (g/day/ref

26.2 87 241 D015 THIAMINE diet survey THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1) INTAKE (mg/day/refe
31.5 80 268 D042 LIGHTVEG diet survey LIGHT COLOURED VEGETABLE INTAKE (g/day/re
32.2 79 230 D004 SOLCARB diet survey CARBOHYDRATE (nitrogen free extract) INTA
35.6 75 254 D028 PLNTFOOD diet survey PLANT FOOD INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
37.5 82 247 D021 K diet survey POTASSIUM INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)
39.3 76 284 D058 SPICE diet survey SPICE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
40.0 84 248 D022 Mg diet survey MAGNESIUM INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)
42.2 80 249 D023 Mn diet survey MANGANESE INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)
43.0 90 265 D039 OTHCEREAL diet survey OTHER CEREAL INTAKE (g/day/reference man,
46.4 93 229 D003 TOTPROT diet survey TOTAL PROTEIN INTAKE (g/day/reference man
47.7 91 246 D020 Cu diet survey COPPER INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)

50.5 87 245 D019 Fe diet survey IRON INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)
56.0 87 257 D031 %PLNTFOOD diet survey PERCENTAGE PLANT FOOD INTAKE (for referen
58.9 95 259 D033 PLNTPROT diet survey PLANT PROTEIN INTAKE (g/day/reference man
62.4 97 264 D038 WHTFLOUR diet survey WHEAT FLOUR INTAKE (g/day/reference man,
64.9 89 261 D035 %PLNTPROT diet survey PERCENTAGE PLANT PROTEIN INTAKE (for refe

-73.9 97 308 D082 MUFA diet survey MONOUNSATURATED FATTY ACID INTAKE (g/day/

-48.0 83 311 D085 CHOL diet survey CHOLESTEROL INTAKE (mg/day/reference man)
-42.2 82 310 D084 SATFA diet survey SATURATED FATTY ACID INTAKE (g/day/refere
-38.4 76 298 D072 LYSINE diet survey LYSINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-36.7 82 291 D065 ASPARTATE diet survey ASPARTATE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-27.6 71 306 D080 TYROSINE diet survey TYROSINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
-26.8 72 290 D064 ARGININE diet survey ARGININE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)

-24.8 69 312 D086 LYS/ARG diet survey LYSINE/ARGININE: RATIO OF INTAKES (for re
-19.2 67 289 D063 ALANINE diet survey ALANINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)

13.9 65 296 D070 ISOLEUCIN diet survey ISOLEUCINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
25.8 78 294 D068 GLYCINE diet survey GLYCINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
38.8 92 301 D075 PHENYLALA diet survey PHENYLALANINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man
40.1 88 307 D081 VALINE diet survey VALINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
40.2 86 295 D069 HISTIDINE diet survey HISTIDINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
44.7 90 300 D074 METH+CYS diet survey METHIONINE+CYSTEINE INTAKE (g/day/referen

47.6 82 293 D067 GLUTAMINE diet survey GLUTAMINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
50.4 92 292 D066 CYSTINE diet survey CYSTEINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
55.4 97 297 D071 LEUCINE diet survey LEUCINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
60.6 97 303 D077 SERINE diet survey SERINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)
73.1 97 302 D076 PROLINE diet survey PROLINE INTAKE (g/day/reference man)

Serine and Proline are elevated by eating wheat. Lysine is reduced by eating wheat.

-55.1 94 143 P024 FOLATE plasma FOLATE (ng/mL)

-42.9 82 149 P030 Se plasma SELENIUM (ug/dL)
-42.8 85 126 P007 TOTPROT plasma 1989 TOTAL PROTEIN (g/dL)
-42.6 86 123 P004 APOA1 plasma APOLIPOPROTEIN A1 (mg/dL) (non-pooled analysis
-40.7 88 150 P031 Zn plasma ZINC (mg/dL)
-38.7 76 128 P009 B-CAROT plasma BETA CAROTENE (ug/dL)
-38.0 82 137 P018 ANHYDLUT plasma ANHYDRO LUTEIN (ug/dL)
-34.6 81 120 P001 TOTCHOL plasma TOTAL CHOLESTEROL (mg/dL)
-34.5 80 144 P025 VITC plasma VITAMIN C (ascorbic acid) (mg/dL)
-34.1 79 122 P003 NONHDL plasma NON-HDL CHOLESTEROL (mg/dL)
-31.2 73 159 P040 B2-MGLOB plasma BETA-2-MICROGLOBULIN (ug/mL)

-27.1 78 146 P027 Cu plasma COPPER (mg/dL)
-25.8 74 132 P013 RBP plasma RETINOL BINDING PROTEIN (mg/dL)
-25.3 77 157 P038 PEPSIN plasma PEPSINOGEN I/II
-20.4 69 124 P005 APOB plasma APOLIPOPROTEIN B (mg/dL) (non-pooled analysis)
-19.5 71 140 P021 NEURSPOR plasma NEUROSPORENE (ug/dL)

14.9 65 153 P034 TIBC plasma TOTAL IRON BINDING CAPACITY (ug/dL)
19.3 74 133 P014 A-TOCOPH plasma ALPHA TOCOPHEROL (ug/dL)

27.6 74 154 P035 TRANSFE plasma 1989 TRANSFERRIN (mg/dL)
28.1 76 152 P033 FERRITIN plasma FERRITIN (ng/mL)
29.6 77 151 P032 Fe plasma IRON (mg/dL)
32.4 79 n/a n/a LDL/HDL plasma LDL to HDL ratio
34.0 79 125 P006 ALBUMIN plasma ALBUMIN (g/dL) (non-pooled analysis)
35.7 75 130 P011 Z-CAROT plasma ZETA CAROTENE (ug/dL)

45.1 92 135 P016 LYCOPENE plasma LYCOPENE (ug/dL)
51.9 93 142 P023 PHYTOENE plasma PHYTOENE (ug/dL)
53.6 94 134 P015 G-TOCOPH plasma GAMMA TOCOPHEROL (ug/dL)
64.0 97 141 P022 PHYTOFLU plasma PHYTOFLUENE (ug/dL)

NOTE: I believe the simplest natural source for Phytofluene, G-tocopherol, Phytene, Lycopene and Z-Carotene is tomato paste.

NOTE: I added the ratio of LDL to HDL as a sanity check after I noticed that LDL was beneficial. HDL is very good and a high LDL/HDL ratio is bad.

This is not at all what Campbell's book implied the data said. As I said above, I am an engineer (with a PhD) with heart disease simply trying to find out what to eat. You do the math...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2008 11:34:08 PM PDT
Orvan says:
Well, Campbell is on a crusade to make you choose a vegan diet and doesn't mind bending the truth about the China Study's data and findings for this purpose.
Anyone performing the necessary research about this sorry excuse for a book without letting pro-vegetarian, pro-vegan or Animal Rights biases get in their way will have to admit it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2008 9:38:30 AM PDT
M.K. Reiner says:
Thanks for doing this. Great work!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2009 9:48:41 PM PDT
Thanks for doing this. You should find a health professional and publish this!

Posted on Jul 10, 2010 2:05:17 PM PDT
A Raw Food blogger, Denise Minger just put together an amazing analysis of the original China Study data.

Posted on Jul 12, 2010 10:33:06 PM PDT
B. Johnson says:
I have a hunch the tomato-derived nutrients are showing up as bad correlates because the people with highest tomato intake are eating the most ketchup and pizza/pasta sauce, which means tomatoes are a proxy for burgers, fries, pizza, and noodles. Just my two cents.

Posted on Jul 30, 2010 7:34:33 AM PDT
JerzeyBird says:
A commenter on Denise Minger's blog led me here. This is a great analysis. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2010 11:37:52 PM PDT
Rarebit says:
After reading your analysis, I do not understand where the high rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. in the US come from.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2010 7:06:28 PM PDT

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 11:23:17 AM PDT
J. Wells says:
The Chinese aren't exactly known for eating pizza.

This study was conducted in China, not America. It was originally intended to be comparison of a very non-Western diet with Western diseases. For what it's worth, the diet closest to a "Western" diet for the Chinese was found in the industrialized counties, but it would still not be considered "Western". These areas, however, showed Western diseases despite the lack of a Western diet. Could there be something besides diet causing this? Campbell doesn't think so, despite all his evidence showing otherwise.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 11:35:44 AM PDT
J. Wells says:
The statistics show a very high correlation with wheat and heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and the USDA recommended diet is almost 50% wheat (breads and pasta, the base of the food pyramid, is almost entirely wheat based in the US), yet you don't understand where they come from?

It's the wheat (and all grains, but especially wheat)!

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 8:18:11 AM PDT
D.M. says:
I'm very impressed with Denise's comments on wheat however I think her analysis is very one sided. If she applied her talent to looking for the benefits of wheat I think the results would be entirely different, because we tend to find what we're looking for and tend to miss what we're not looking for. I could say the same thing about Gary Taubes and carbohydrates.

Whole wheat is not good for people with gluten sensitivity (15%) or celiac disease (1%), but in spite of this it's so good for so many others that it's typically associated with lower rates of Western diseases. Then what's going on in rural China? In China, the alternative to wheat is rice which has heart protective chemicals not found in wheat. How bad are the wheat eaters doing in China? The people of Tuoli eat a lot of wheat and have a very low rate of heart disease. In other counties, wheat plus their other dietary and lifestyle factors still equals a significantly lower rate of heart disease than the United States. How are other cultures doing who eat a lot of wheat? In a region of Sardinia where people live longer than almost anywhere else in the world, they eat a lot of whole wheat bread. And the Mediterranean diet known for its low rate of heart disease includes a lot of whole wheat.

The less finely ground the better. So wheat berries, bulgur, cracked wheat or sprouted grain would be better than bread made from finely ground flour.

Rice contains 9.3% protein and wheat contains 16% protein. Protein promotes growth, so it's reasonable to expect people who eat more protein to be taller and weigh more than people who were marginally deficient in protein as children. A vegan getting all their protein from wheat could easily meet their protein requirement while that would be impossible eating only rice. And there are several almost vegan counties in rural China that are probably getting most of their protein from rice.

Wheat is low in lysine and many people believe a lysine deficiency contributes to heart disease. But combining wheat with beans or animal protein solves this problem.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 8:33:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 9:06:21 AM PDT
D.M. says:
Richard M. Kroeker,

Before you jump on the low carb band wagon you should read this new study ( )
that compares a 12% animal protein reduced carb diet to an 18% animal protein reduced carb diet in thousands of people (men for 20 years and women for 26 years) If you don't want to pay $15 for your own copy Denise has all the charts on her web site where she attemps to reassure her fellow grain haters.

The study only included nurses and other health professionals. People in all deciles were more health conscious, drank less than one serving of sweetened soft drinks and ate more fruits and vegetables than the general public.

The 10th decile in the high meat group ate significantly less carbs than the controls (35% v. 60%) even if they still ate more than strict low carb dieters. Therefore according to the principles that low carb people believe in, these people should have improved at least a little bit. Instead they had more cancer and heart disease.

This really makes it look like it's mostly the addition of protective factors (all the things Weston Price talked about and more) and not the reduction of carbs that makes some cultures able to thrive on a high meat diet.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 2:26:04 PM PDT
reader says:
> If she applied her talent to looking for the benefits of wheat I think the results would be entirely different,
> because we tend to find what we're looking for and tend to miss what we're not looking for.

I think you should re-read Minger's post ( She puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into trying to find factors *other* than wheat that could explain the disastrous health effects, but only wheat could explain the results.

You don't give any evidence for any of your claims, and even if you did -- they're just correlations, which mean nothing in terms of cause-and-effect.

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 2:29:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 2:31:01 PM PDT
reader says:
> Before you jump on the low carb band wagon you should read this new study

Cohort studies like that are meaningless, and self-reported diet surveys are useless, because, simply, people don't remember what they ate, and when they do, they lie about it.

Nonetheless, Minger destroyed that analysis pretty convincingly as well -- why don't you read how? It's here:

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 3:07:19 PM PDT
D.M. says:
So you claim that correlations from epidemiology are meaningless in terms of cause and effect. I agree that they can only suggest cause and effect and that hypotheses should be tested in the lab or in clinical trials before we bet our life on them.

I take it you're a strong supporter of the low carb lifestyle. On what do you base your confidence that a diet composed mostly of meat will reduce the rates of Western diseases? It certainly isn't clinical trials. It's observational studies of cultures where eating a lot of meat was positively correlated with good health.

I know that a diet high in meat can be healthy, but it certainly wasn't for the people in this well conducted study. You think carbohydrate reduction is a magical factor that lowers Western diseases, but excess insulin is just one factor in a long list of things that affect Western diseases. Excess IGF-1, vitamin D insufficiency, a sedentary lifestyle, a shortage of phytochemicals from fruit and vegetables, a shortage of omega-3, eating too much salt and smoking all have huge effects on Western diseases. And according to Weston Price free range meat and dairy, good quality soil, minimally processed food, calcium and fat soluble nutrients and whole grains were important reasons for the health of the people he studied.

I repeat that I'm not trying to get you to give up a diet high in meat, but can you say with scientific certainty why the relatively few groups who thrive on a high meat diet are able to do so?

The next post will be about Denise's flawed logic.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 3:38:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 3:51:18 PM PDT
reader says:
"Well conducted"? Gosh, that's a past-participle modified by an adverb! I guess it *must* be true!

In any event, if you can't be persuaded by Gary Taubes, probably the most respected science writer alive, I will hardly be able to persuade you, nor do I have time to bicker.

I'm just the guy following you around with a pooper scooper, making sure that there are links to smarter people who are running giant datasets (rather than spouting platitudes) and thinking harder to craft better arguments.

Good luck out-reasoning Minger, though.

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 4:18:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 4:52:14 PM PDT
D.M. says:
You can read my review of Good Calories Bad Calories by clicking my ID. Taubes is a talented writer and an expert debater but probably never took a basic nutrition course. Respected by whom? Certainly not the majority of scientists and doctors. But I do respect his power of persuasion which is based largely on the technique of taking a totally one sided look at the evidence.

My position is that there are several ways to be healthy including low carb and Mediterranean and the diet and lifestyle of cultures known for their extreme longevity. I'm not trying to persuade everyone to be a vegan.

You're basically telling me that your confidence that low carb can prevent Western diseases is the result of reading GCBC. I agree than under certain circumstances a high meat diet can beat Western diseases, but for reasons that have little to do with meat or the flawed conclusions on page 454 of GCBC. And you're telling me you're going bet your life on the untested hypothesis of a science writer . I should say it was untested until this recent study demolished it.

If you don't add the protective foods and behaviors of the Masai, the people of Tokelau and others your results with low carb probably won't be any better than the high meat group in the study.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 5:00:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 5:39:55 PM PDT
reader says:
> probably never took a basic nutrition course.

Blah blah blah. BS in applied physics at Harvard, MS in aerospace engineering at Stanford, MA in journalism from Columbia University, three-time winner of the Science in Society Award of the National Association of Science could the likes of Taubes hold a candle to a pasty-faced $30k/year vegan dietitian witlessly chanting "eat more grains?"

But what's this? "Flawed conclusions on page 454", you say? Then it must be so!

Go write your own book, silly person.

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 5:06:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 5:41:16 PM PDT
D.M. says:
I don't care about his qualifications as a writer. I said he was a talented writer. But even Einstein couldn't play the violin without taking lessons. And nutrition is not Taubes area of expertese.

Here's an example of what I mean.

On page 454 GCBC says "By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume the leaner we will be." If there is even one exception then there is something wrong with the hypothesis. In rural China they eat 75.8% carbs (but they are healthy carbs, not sugar and white flour) and they have extremely low rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. These facts about China are not in dispute. By ignoring them GCBC misleads us about the complexities of physiology and the fact that some people do best on low carb while many others do best on low fat.

Here's another example.

On page 454 GCBC says "Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes." The studies by Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish that reversed heart disease on a low fat, high carb diet are over 20 years old and something he should have at least heard about in 5 years of research for this book!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 5:42:29 PM PDT
reader says:
Um...I believe that Gary Taubes has heard of Dean Ornish.

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 5:51:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 5:56:03 PM PDT
D.M. says:
Here's another example.

Casein increases IGF-1 but doesn't effect insulin and is bad for cancer. Whey increases insulin but doesn't effect IGF-1 and is good for cancer. Therefore excess IGF-1 is more important than excess insulin in causing cancer.

"our data provide evidence that protein intake is a key determinant of circulating IGF-1 levels in humans"

BTW I'm not a vegan and as I've already said I'm for good health regardless of whether it's the result of eating low carb, low fat or something else.

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 6:26:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 8:36:02 PM PDT
D.M. says:
Be sure and watch parts two thru five.

Taubes argues for uncertainty of Dr. Ornish's conclusions but offers no certainy of his own that an Atkin's diet is healthy. This latest study has finally put a 35% carbohydrate, 18% animal protein diet to the test long enough to measure actual health outcomes (not just risk factors) and they had higher rates of heart disease and cancer. In this study, another group ate 35% carbs, 38% fat and only 12% animal protein and got great results. That's much more like Mediterranean than Atkins.

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 8:41:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 8:57:09 PM PDT
D.M. says:
Knowing about Dr. Ornish and not acknowledging his research in the book makes GCBC seem like a slick sales pitch for Atkins rather than something we should take seriously. In fact on page 173 Taube's predicts that following the diet Dr. Ornish recommends will increase the risk of heart disease three fold. A deliberate lie if I ever heard one. I would say that Gary Taubes pretty well destroyed any credibility he had left with that one.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 10:37:08 PM PDT
reader says:
You are being foolish. Ornish is not some leading scientist. He's just a self-promoter who ripped off Nathan Pritikin's shtick after he killed himself.

There are a bunch of quacks in the same vein: Campbell, Fuhrman, Esselstyn,'s a very long list.
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