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1,962 of 2,304 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2010
If Dr Campbell promotes moral or environmental reasons for going vegan, I'd congratulate him. But he is promoting it as the ultimate diet for humans.

Unfortunately, his advice that we should go vegan is not backed by his own study.

After reading this book, I went to find the actual study (the monograph "Diet, Life-style and Mortality in China") and there were many holes in his hypothesis. There was no correlation between animal protein and disease! I also found conflicting evidence in science journals. He ignored contrary results and left out data that did not support his view.

What I find disturbing is, this book is for the general public and will affect the dietary choices of many people. Most people don't have the time to research these facts for themselves so he takes advantage of that (but if you do, PLEASE go check the information for yourselves before making a decision on removing meat entirely for health reasons). Critical thinking is important.

Anyway, here are the problems with the information in this book:
- This study was an observational study. Problems with studies like these, it doesn't prove causality. Even with that, the results showed no correlation. In fact, it revealed that wheat had a stronger correlation than animal protein intake - which of couse, he left out of the book.

- Casein in milk, he demonstrated, causes cancer. But he also left out feeding SUGAR along with the protein. Sugar has been shown to promote tumor growth. He also didn't mention that casein is not consumed isolated in nature (human breast milk has casein too, should we ban that too?)

- He cited an Indian study that showed rats taking 20% casein with the toxin aflatoxin will develop cancer whereas rats taking 5% casein did not. He just forgot to mention that the rats on the low casein diet died after 6 months. While the 20% casein rats lived for 2 years.

- Protein from plants can also be "complete proteins" if you eat a wide variety of plant foods, based on Campbell's conclusions that complete protein like animal proteins can cause cancer, that must apply to plant proteins as well.

- He says "..there is a mountain of scientific evidence to show that the healthiest diet you can possibly consume is a high-carbohydrate diet". Actually, clinical studies show the opposite - that high carb diets (particularly refined carbs) are bad for diabetics, those who are obese, those with metabolic syndrome and some even show that it's bad for people with heart disease.

- He links total cholesterol with cancer mortality rates. Researchers still have trouble proving high cholesterol is associated with heart disease let alone cancer! (high triglycerides, with high VLDL and low HDL are better indicators than cholesterol. In fact, 50% of people who develop heart disease have mid to LOW cholesterol levels).

- He says overall, the more meat the Chinese consume, the higher the cancer rates. But unfortunately, he left out the county of Tuoli (as demonstrated by Denise Minger) a county with high consumption of meat AND dairy enjoyed ironically low incidences of cancer. The Masai, the Eskimos and even the French with their diets of high fat or dairy and animal protein have good health (low rates of heart disease, low cancer rates, low obesity).

- He believes that the lower rates of cancer among the Chinese compared to Americans must be due to their diet of low animal protein. It is well known that calorie restriction in animals and even in humans can improve health and longevity. This was shown during the world wars when food was rationed, rates of cancer and other diesases fell! The China study was done in the mid 1970's to 1980s - the tailend of the mass starvation of the Chinese before the Mao government loosened its grip on capitalism in the late 80s. For decades prior to the China Study, many counties had little food to eat. Ask any Chinese baby boomer from China and they can tell you how poor they were as children. I've heard stories of people eating roots and bark from trees out of desperation. Meat was highly valued and hard to come by. So the whole notion that the Chinese CHOSE to be vegans is insulting.

- Campbell makes it out as though we should all eat like the Chinese, for disease-free long life. Go find the statistics for longevity of the Chinese and you'll find the average life expectancy of the Chinese is lower than Americans. Yes, you heard right. You can check this yourself online. In fact, the countries with the highest life expectancy are the ones who consume the highest intake of fat and meat. It is a myth that the Japanese centenarians in Okinawa eat a low fat diet. They eat plenty of fish and seafood and their dishes are greasy.

There are more inconsistencies with the information. But you get the point. Before anyone accuses me of being a Campbell basher, think about this: he is SELLING a book, he has his reputation to defend, I don't sell anything, I'm not associated with the meat industry (I dislike them in fact), I bought this book (verified by Amazon) and giving an honest review without vegan-rose-colored-glasses on. I read it with an open mind and came out disappointed and mildly disgusted. Why? Because his suggestions may cause harm to his readers.

I'm not suggesting we go and eat as much factory farmed meat as we want. But free range, organic grass fed meat is healthy - high in omega3, low in omega6, low e.coli count, higher vitamin A and vitamin D in organs.

My review is not an attack on Dr Campbell as a person. I have not made any personal remarks about him. Nor am I attacking veganism or vegetarianism. I think they're morally valid ways to eat that work for some people. What I am attacking is the information, the content and what adverse affects it could have on people's health.

If you're hell bent on giving veganism a go, please take out sugar, refined wheat and Western tofu products from your diet.

I highly recommend this book - read it, check the facts and judge it for yourself.
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966 of 1,197 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2009
Review of the China Study

I am a scientist, not specifically in the field of nutrition, though I have touched on it as an aside of my main focus, and I know how to research and interpret (correctly!) scientific work. I have read The China Study and the China Project (a publication of the actual data from the study). Normally when reading bad science information I would just shrug it off and move on but thought that there would be people out there that would just take the authors word of the truth of the book, resulting in unnecessary dietary alterations and damage to health all with the aim of trying to get healthier. As such I have written my thoughts on the book - take from them what you will.

The China Study is an attempt by Campbell to promote veganism as a dietary lifestyle through scientific research. Unfortunately the scientific basis of the book if full off misinterpretations, omissions of conflicting data, and conclusions and statements based on unreferenced facts (possibly not facts?). I began reading the book with an open mind but from the outset it was clear that Campbell had one mantra - animal based food is bad, plant based food is good, and this is repeated over and over throughout the book.

Let's first look at Campbells own laboratory studies. In the presence of Aflatoxin, a carcinogen, rats fed a diet of 20% casein, a milk protein, develop cancer while those that are fed 5% casein do not. Okay, I am willing to accept that study on face value. How much casein causes cancer then? In a dose response study Campbell found that 10% casein doesn't contribute to cancer development, but above 10% does. Again, I am happy to accept that. A diet made up of 10% casein contributes to cancer development. How does that apply to humans? After describing a study about nitrosamines and how the dose wasn't relevant to the human population (page 45), Campbell has done the exact same thing with his Casein study. Casein is a milk protein. In 100ml of whole milk, the macro nutrient content is 5.2g of carbohydrate, 3.25g of fat and 3.2g of protein that equals 11.65g of nutrients, the rest of the 100ml mostly made up of water. Milk protein is 80% casein, 80% of 3.2g is 2.56, so out of that 11.65 total, 2.56 is casein which equals 22% of the total. Oh no! Milk will cause us to develop cancer! But don't worry, as long as we get the casein down to 10% we will be safe. How do we do that? Eat 13.95g of anything that is not casein. Pretty easy to do. So as long as we are not living of more than about 50% milk, then we are safe from cancer as a result of the casein in the milk. Do you know anybody that has that much milk? And that is ignoring the fact that casein extracted from milk for the purposes of his study is not exactly a healthy, natural source of protein purely as a result of the chemical extraction.

But hang on, what if other proteins contribute to the development of cancer? Campbell thought that so he investigated gluten and soy and found that neither of them had the same impact as casein. That clearly shows that not all proteins contribute to cancer, and having tested 2 plant proteins and 1 of the many animal proteins, we must therefore conclude that ALL animal proteins lead to cancer and ALL plant proteins do not. Does anybody else see a problem with this? All that we can conclude from these studies is a diet made up of above 10% casein, may contribute to the development of cancer and a diet below 10% casein does not contribute. That is all. Other proteins, both animal and plant, like gluten and soy, may behave differently and unless you have a milk fetish or you are downing large amounts of casein based protein powder (like the rats in the study) then the study is largely irrelevant to your diet or your health.

Before moving on I have one more observation; To test the impact of decreased protein from 20 to 5% they replaced some of the protein with carbohydrates to keep the calories the same. Commenting on the addition of carbohydrate he says "the extra starch and glucose in the low-protein diets could not have been responsible for the lower development of foci because these carbohydrates, when tested alone, actually increase foci development" (page 351). So carbohydrates, which come from plants, increase the development of foci? PLANTS CAUSE CANCER TOO?? Could this be something worth elaborating on or including in a conclusion? No, better not, lets keep that brief mention of carbohydrates causing cancer stuck away in an appendix in case anybody gets the wrong idea.

It is apparent from his casein studies that Campbell has come to the conclusion that "20% casein causes cancer, therefore all animal protein is bad". It is with this mindset that he then set out on the giant study of the China Project, a commendable effort that could have had many beneficial outcomes. Unfortunately, possibly as a result of his previous work, Campbell has gone in with blinders on, and all he can see is animal protein and the negative health outcomes associated with its' consumption. The project itself and the original publication arising from it produced a vast amount of data that provides some interesting insight into health and disease. However, what Campbell has shown in the China Study is but a fraction of the information to be gained from the project. It would require a whole new study (unbiased this time preferably) to go into all the beneficial knowledge we could gain, but I will touch on a few things here.

Campbells main conclusion in the China Study is that all animal protein contributes to disease and all plant protein prevents disease. In the original project, they performed a diet survey over 3 days, analyzing all the food consumed per person in that time. Guess how many of the measured mortality factors (about 50 of them), were associated with animal protein consumption measured from the diet survey. Zero. Zero. Zero. Okay, so Campbell can't have come to his conclusions from there. They also had study participants fill out a questionnaire that included one question on meat consumption. Guess how many mortality factors correlated with that? One type of cancer (naso-pharyngeal or something I think it was). An example of some of the many other inclusions in the questionnaire are canola oil and potatoes (not sweet potatoes) which both had a number of positive associations with the development of different types of cancer. Apparently that wasn't worth mentioning in the China Study. Speaking of oil, Campbell makes reference to %fat in the diet being a good indicator of animal protein consumption, despite the fact they clearly use enough canola oil (a vegetable fat) to measure in the study.

So a 3 day food consumption survey shows no association between animal protein and mortality and a questionnaire shows an association between meat and one of many cancers measured. From where can Campbell come to his evil animal protein conclusion then? They also took plasma samples and measured them for blood biomarkers of animal protein consumption. These biomarkers, listed in the references for chapter 4 #39 are "plasma copper, urea nitrogen, estradiol, prolactin, testosterone and, inversely, sex hormone binding globulin, each of which has been known to be associated with animal protein intake from previous studies". No mention of these previous studies of course. So the associations with most of those biomarkers and mortality rates are dubious, and the only biomarker statistically associated with cancer mortality is copper. Many places show food sources of copper and I went to [...] find the best sources of copper. The best? Calfs liver. The next 40 best? All from plants. 42 and 43 are shrimp and venison, the only other animal source in the list on the site. So for copper to be a biomarker of animal consumption then the participants in this study must be eating a lot of calf liver and avoiding a lot of vegetables. Sound realistic?

So from an association between blood biomarkers, the only real one being copper, and cancer mortality, Campbell has concluded that animal protein gives you cancer, despite the fact that the majority of dietary sources of copper are actually from plant sources. So that basically leaves Campbell with no actual evidence between animal consumption and mortality as a result of the original China project.

A final note. In his eating right section Campbell says supplements are bad (principle 2). Principle 3 then says "there are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants"(page 230), but over the page he says plants are not a good source of vitamin B12 and you probably should take a supplement. What? Then in the how to eat section on page 242 he says "the findings from the China Study indicate that the lower percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits-even when the percentage declines from 10% to 0% of calories". As I've clearly shown, the China Study does not show this, and his own study with Casein proved that there was no benefit in eating less then 10% of your diet from Casein.

Clearly Campbell is a vegetarian, as he states in the book, and promoting vegetarianism is his main goal, which he tries to back up with scientific research that actually disagrees with him, but that he has interpreted in a way that makes it agree with him. Bad science, bad book and definitely bad recommendations as far as health. While I'm not saying go out and live on animal products alone, I don't think you should stop eating them, especially because they are tasty, but even if only for a natural source of vitamin B12.
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376 of 480 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 1, 2009
Colin Campbell is so intent on promoting a vegan data that he misrepresents the data in the real China Study and cherry picks anti-animal food data. For instance, he rightly cites the link between milk and autoimmune disease but fails to mention that gluten, from wheat and related grains, is at least as important a cause. He writes of the association between casein, a milk protein, with cancer, but fails to mention that whey and butterfat are protective against cancer, and in milk you get all of them. He makes completely false statements like folate not being in meat when organ meats are much higher in folate than any plant source according to the USDA. He assumes nutrient consistency with the US without actually measuring it, despite the fact that soil nutrients and species differences have a huge effect on nutrition.

On cancer, he uses this data from the real China Study Mortality, Biochemistry, Diet and Lifestyle in Rural China: Geographic Study of the Characteristics of 69 Counties in Mainland China and 16 Areas in Taiwan and claims it shows you shouldn't eat animal protein, but in fact it shows just the opposite. The higher the positive number, the more the cancer association. The negative numbers show that a food source, like fats (lipids) actually protect against cancer. (Yes, mildly lowers the risk.)

Associations of Selected Variables with Mortality for All Cancers in the China Study Total Protein +12%
Animal Protein +3%
Fish Protein +7%
Plant Protein +12%
Total Lipids -6%

Carbohydrates +23%
Total Calories +16%
Fat % Calories -17%
Fiber +21%
Fat (questionnaire) -29%*
(Data taken from the original monograph of the China Study.)

Sugar, soluble carbohydrates, and fiber all have correlations with cancer mortality about seven times the magnitude of that with animal protein, and total fat and fat as a percentage of calories were both negatively correlated with cancer mortality. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't eat protein, because the correlation of eating all food with cancer is +100%, but chances are the higher fat and protein diet will be safer than a high carbohydrate diet.

Why do I say "chances are"? A correlation is only as good as the data it collects. In China, people wealthy enough to have animal protein are also more likely to eat sugar, processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, to lower vegetable intake and to be able to drive instead of bicycle. They are also more likely to live in the heavily polluted urban centers. This information was not collected, and may actually be causal as opposed to be merely correlated.

The only questions in the China study about protein consumption were 'how many times a month do you eat fish/meat/eggs/dairy?' There were no questions about which of those foods you eat. For instance, oysters are so important a source of zinc, that native New Guinea tribesmen who live in the interior and have access to meat, insist on going through a war zone to get the oysters once a month. Or they arrange an exchange of mountain fruits for oysters with the very tribes they are fighting. But there were no questions that differentiated fish, which have very different profiles from shellfish.

The same China study (the real one, not this book) also shows living in a hot climate is highly correlated with low cancer. This exceeds the effect of animal protein by over 700% It also show that homemade cigarettes and alcohol are negatively correlated with cancer, but not at a significant level. But he isn't mentioning that.

He misrepresents any number of studies that he cites, taking one described by the researcher as "high protein and low fat" and labels it as low protein. He shows an appalling lack of knowledge in the constituents of meats. He suggests Alzheimers can be prevented by a vegan diet, ignoring the vast literature on the preventative aspects of DHA which is only found in animals and marine plankton. His ideology prevents an honest evaluation of the data.

A pity that the original study is not affordable to the average reader because Campbell is a poor representative of the data and what it means.
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502 of 657 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2005
I was very interested to read this book, but I was disappointed because there were omissions. There was selective reporting of the survey results to advocate a whole foods vegan diet.

We are not told what chinese people actually eat vs their cancer rate by province. The author advocates a vegan diet and uses the china study to justify this, but the chinese are not vegans. They may be ALMOST wholefoods vegan, but this is not the same as totally vegan. I would like to have seen included a percentage of animal products in the diet of the rural chinese, broken up by meat(non fish), fish, dairy, egg. I have assumed that dairy is zero due to lactose intolerance but this is just a guess.

The author believes supplements are not necessary (I agree), but then states that a B12 supplement is necessary. Of course on a vegan diet it is necessary. Doesn't this indicate humans need enough animal products in their diet to avoid a B12 deficiency (there would not be much animal product required), I believe we only need 2 mcg of B12 per day. He claims that organically grown plants would have b12 naturally, but offers no evidence of this. I do not believe this to be true, I want proof.

In summary, I do not like the incomplete reporting of data to suit someones philosophy, but I do believe that the best diet is wholefoods about 80% derived from plants, with enough meat/fish to be healthy and stave off a b12 deficiency. I ageee that dairy is not suitable for humans. In fact, our closest relatives the chimpanzee eat mostly leaves, fruits and other parts of plants, insects and meat when it is available, they don't get much meat but they will hunt smaller animals if given the opportunity.

I wish the original text of the published study had been included as part of the book, now I have to locate a copy,aarg!!!

Some Time Later ... Now I have actually read the actual Study that this book is talking about.


Cancer Mortality is not correlated to meat eating or total protein or the intake of animal fat.!!!

So the actual study doesn't support the vegan diet at all, in fact non of the people studied were vegan. In fact the longest lived people on earth (okinawans and japanese) are not vegans, but they eat heaps of vegetables and a wide variety, legumes, rice, fish, small amounts of meat, and no dairy.

One thing I noticed from the REAL China Study was that the rural chinese are more likely to die from infectious disease such as TB and Pneumonia than westerners. They do not have a life expectancy greater than ours! I think we should be looking at the japanese/okinawa diet.

A good book on this is by Bradley Wilcox
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198 of 268 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2010
Masterjohn provided the first evidence that the vegan emperor has no clothes, but now former vegan Denise Minger, in her Raw Food SOS blog, has completely discredited Campbell for his fraudulent interpretation of the data. A telling question after she applied real statistical analysis to the same data that Campbell "analyzed":

"Why does Campbell indict animal foods in cardiovascular disease (correlation of +1 for animal protein and -11 for fish protein), yet fail to mention that wheat flour has a correlation of +67 with heart attacks and coronary heart disease, and plant protein correlates at +25 with these conditions?

Speaking of wheat, why doesn't Campbell also note the astronomical correlations wheat flour has with various diseases: +46 with cervix cancer, +54 with hypertensive heart disease, +47 with stroke, +41 with diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs, and the aforementioned +67 with myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease?"

This book is scientific garbage and it's harming people's health.
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129 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2010
I started this book hoping for some good information on the links between diet and disease, specifically cancer. The author had a pretty amazing dataset to work with and could have drawn some interesting theories from this dataset. Instead he uses the data to blindly promote his own biases towards 100% veganism. I eat very healthy, organic food and probably 90% fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. So I have no bias towards people who promote whole foods and mostly fruits and vegetables. In fact, I'm probably biased towards them. However, I did have major problems with the sloppiness of this book. Just some of the problems:

1) The author gives us many correlations between meat and disease and jumps straight to his conclusion that meat protein causes many diseases. But not once does he off a theory as to why this occurs or the mechanism by which this occurs. How is that science? Where is the theory?

2) The author went into the study of the data looking for these correlations. He was not unbiased. Therefore we should already be very skeptical of his conclusions.

3) Where is the discussion of the diet on which humans evolved? Clearly the most healthy diet is the one we evolved on. That diet includes meat. Not much meat, but it certainly includes meat. Again, the author loses much credibility by not even mentioning evolution and diet together. Very disappointing.

4) The author does not once make an exception for fish. It is well known that many, if not most, human cultures evolved on the coasts and ate a lot of fish. We know fish is very different than red meat in terms of how the human body processes and uses it. Yet the author lumps fish in with steak and chicken.

5) In probably the most incredible leap of faith the author has the gall to say that it doesn't really matter if you eat organic foods or not. Just don't eat meat and everything will be fine. You can't get most diseases if you don't eat meat, according to the author. That is downright dangerous advice.

If you want to read well thought out, unbiased books on nutrition that are incredibly well written read the books of Michael Pollan. In Defense of Food and Omnivore's Dilemma are the bibles of nutrition to me.
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186 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2009
Now I have no problem with a blatant promotion of veganism, but I take issue with trying to hide behind the China Study. This book is not the China Study. Campbell spends a large portion of the book stating his formal credentials trying desperately to get you to believe anything he says based on his credentials. "Trust me I'm the expert. Don't think for yourself. Don't read the actual studies on your own. I will interpret for you what to think about the studies." That is the impression I get from this book. Campbell would have you believe that an essential nutrient such as protein is a poison, especially complete animal proteins. He states that wealthy people who adapted western lifestyles in third world countries began to eat more animal protein and their health declined. He doesn't mention they also ate processed, refined sugars too. If you read Weston Price's amazing work you would quickly understand that it is the processed, refined carbohydrates and foods that really create the problems. There really has never been a vegan culture ever in the history of humanity. There was a group in India that was vegetarian and they were the least healthy of any of the primitive cultures. They incorporated insects and milk to help get vital nutrients such as B12 and quality protein. Campbell says wheat and soy are among the safest proteins. Really?! Nearly everyone has at least some form of sub-clinical gluten sensitivities according to many experts, and the damning research on soy is abundant. Campbell insists that the diet that has NEVER existed in all of humanities history and is missing essential nutrients is the optimal diet for mankind. This is absurd, and no serioius scientist could possibly concur with his thesis.
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137 of 196 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2009
Bought this book after it was reviewed quite well and recommended. However, I am disappointed that the actual data of the China Study directly contradict the books message. It was actually not animal protein that was statistically significant, but WHEAT! Recommending "whole-grain wheat" is scientifically against what the statistics showed, gluten has shown to have very inflammatory properties in double blind studies.

I recommend "ultrametabolism" or "protein power" instead
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87 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2011
A "China Study" Review

In T. Colin Campbell's "The China Study" we are told over and over again that there is "mountains of evidence" showing that a "whole foods, plant based diet" is the only way to be healthy and avoid disease. All animal foods are condemned as being unhealthy and the cause of chronic disease. Campbell concludes from his studies and research that animal protein is the culprit in most chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and bone, kidney, eye and brain diseases. He completely ignores the "mountains of evidence" that clearly shows that good quality animal products, from animals that have been range raised and fed their natural diet, protect us from chronic disease and are essential for obtaining our optimal health. He emphasizes the difference between quality whole foods from plants and grains versus processed, refined carbohydrates, yet says all animal foods are unhealthy. He fails to make the distinction between factory farmed animal products and quality animal products from range raised animals that are fed their natural diet, ie cows are designed to eat grass not grains. He also ignores the negative impact his advised whole foods, plant based diet has on health as well as the adverse effects on the environment, biodiversity, ecosystems, and excessive fossil fuel consumption. We are repeatedly told how many credentials and experience Campbell has, how many scientific articles he has written and awards he has received, and he condescendingly belittles anyone who questions his conclusions accusing them of being biased, unscientific and inexperienced. Yet "The China Study" is filled with unfounded leaps of logic, biased assumptions, inconsistent facts, omissions, exaggerations, reductionism, and misunderstandings.

Campbell bases much of his conclusion, that a whole foods, plant based diet is optimal for good health and disease prevention, on his laboratory program that studied the effects of casein fed to rats and development of cancer. Rats were fed the carcinogen aflatoxin and then fed different amounts of casein to observe the impact of this protein on cancer. In the rats that received 20% of their diet as casein, cancer growth increased and the ones whose diet contained only 5% casein, the cancer growth was inhibited. From this he concludes that "cow's milk protein is an exceptionally potent cancer promoter in rats dosed with aflatoxin." Then he makes the unfounded jump that all animal proteins are destructive to health, cause cancer and many other chronic diseases. As Chris Masterjohn states "Unfortunately, Campbell projects the results of his casein-cancer research onto all animal protein--a leap he does not justify with evidence or even sound logic." "It seems ironic that Campbell censures reductionism in nutritional science, yet uses that very reductionism to condemn an entire class of foods (animal products) based on the behavior of one substance in isolation (casein)."

Campbell fails to disclose the fact that whey protein did not have the negative effect that isolated casein did. As Chris Masterjohn points out, "whey protein appears to have a protective effect against colon cancer that casein does not have."

The casein that Campbell fed to his laboratory rats was in an isolated, powder form (I do not know if it came from raw milk or pasteurized milk.) Isolated, powdered casein is completely different from casein in its natural state as part of a whole raw milk food. All of the components in raw milk work synergistically. To conclude that isolated, powdered casein will have the same effect as whole raw milk in its natural state is unfounded.

Campbell does not tell us or does not know if the milk he used was type A1 or A2 milk. Keith Woodford in his book " Devil In The Milk" argues that the casein from A1 type milk, (ie from Holstein cows), has been linked to type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism and schizophrenia in individuals with compromised digestive tracts. (I believe the milk he used was pasteurized and not raw). However, there were no adverse health effects from A2 type milk which comes from old fashioned cows like Jerseys and Guernseys. The two milks have a different B-casein variant and a different amino acid at position 67. In A1 the amino acid is histidine which forms a weak link and upon digestion, the breakdown at this weak link happens easily and releases an opioid in the gut which can lead to health problems. Thus knowing the type of milk used in his experiment could be a very important variable that was overlooked.

Campbell also uses his "China Study" as proof that a whole foods, plant based diet, devoid of all animal foods, is the key to health. I am not sure why his book is called "The China Study" since there is very little discussion on it in the book. This study began in 1983 and was "a nationwide comprehensive study of dietary and lifestyle factors associated with disease mortality in 170 villages in mainland China and Taiwan." From this study he claims that the "people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease and those who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease." Yet there are many problems with this "proof." To begin with, the China study was an epidemiologic study. Epidemiologic studies are rife with problems and uncertainties as Lierre Keith points out, "...epidemiological studies can only prove correlation. They cannot prove causality." Campbell himself admits that "if someone wants proof that a single factor causes a single outcome, a correlation is not good enough." He says "The China study has over 8,000 statistically significant correlations" and because of this, he in fact does base his biased conclusions on these correlations. We know from Ancel Keys' infamous Six Countries Epidemiologic Study how easy it is for them to be twisted and used to prove whatever one wishes. Keys cherry picked the 6 countries out of 22 for which he had facts and statistics because these countries corroborated his hypothesis.

Another problem with the "China Study" is it based its diet information on questionnaires over a three day period. Questionnaires are highly unreliable and a 3 day period does not seem to me to be nearly long enough to base conclusions. Another drawback with the study, as Chris Masterjohn points out is "...the nutrient intakes were determined from food composition tables, rather than measured directly from foods. This disallowed any consideration of differences in nutrient composition of foods in different areas due to soil quality, which was a primary theme of Weston Price's research." and "...did not adequately account for the diversity of animal foods."

Another project Campbell coordinated was in the Philippines and it investigated the high prevalence of liver cancer in Filipino children. He states that the children who ate the highest-protein diets were the ones most likely to get liver cancer and that they were the children of the wealthiest families. Children of the wealthiest families also probably consumed many refined carbohydrates and sugars yet this is not considered.

If Campbell has spent so many years studying the effect of nutrition and health, why does he completely ignore the numerous scientists and studies that clearly show that quality animal foods are essential for optimal health and prevention of chronic disease? One of Campbell's listed "Principles" states "There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants. Dr. Weston A. Price came to the opposite conclusion. He documented over and over again in "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" that a traditional diet high in animal fats and nutrient dense animal foods and traditionally prepared foods, without white sugar, flour and highly processed vegetable oils, produced healthy, happy people with virtually no chronic disease, mental problems, birth defects, or dental cavities or malformations. Dr George Mann, George Catlin, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Lierre Keith, Uffe Ravnskov, Dr. Mary Enig, Sally Fallon Morell, Dr. Tom Cowan, Kaalya T Daniel, and many more all discuss how animal foods high in fat and cholesterol contribute to health and help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Campbell has a complete misunderstanding of cholesterol and incorrectly thinks high blood cholesterol causes cancer and is a strong indicator of Western diseases especially heart disease. Cholesterol plays a crucial role in the health of our entire bodies. As Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell state in "Oiling of America" cholesterol "acts as a precursor to vital corticosteroids, hormones that help us deal with stress and protect the body against heart disease and cancer; it is a precursor to vitamin D, a vital fat-soluble vitamin needed for healthy bones and nervous system, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, reproduction and immune system function; it is the precursor to bile salts, which are vital for digestion and assimilation of fats in the diet." Cholesterol also acts as an antioxidant, is a healing agent and necessary for the production of serotonin. Cholesterol is not the demon Campbell makes it out to be and is not correlated with cancer. Blood cholesterol levels are not a reliable indicator for heart disease. Because of this misunderstanding of the importance of cholesterol for our health, Campbell states "...plant-based food contain no cholesterol and, in various other ways, help to decrease the amount of cholesterol made by the body. All of this was consistent with the findings from the China study."

Campbell uses the Framingham Heart study as supporting his argument. He tells us "No study has been more influential than that of the Framingham Heart Study." However, he fails to mention that the program director William Castelli wrote in 1992 that "the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower people's serum cholesterol...we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, saturated fat, ate the most calories weighed the least and were the most physically active."

Campbell also fails to point out the crucial role the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2 play in optimal health and disease prevention. These fat soluble vitamins, which only exist in animal foods, are necessary for the health of our bones, teeth, facial development, organs, mineral absorption, protein use, the development of our brains and nervous systems and much more. Yet Campbell claims that "...we should not have our children consume diets high in animal-based foods." He writes that all the vitamin D our bodies need can be obtained from being out in the sun for brief periods of time a few times a week. This is only true for those people living near the equator and during the midday hours during the summer in other parts of the world. Many factors, like age, skin color, pollution, and time of year make this impossible. He notes correctly that MS is a chronic disease that exists in higher numbers in populations the further they live from the equator. However, instead of advocating animal foods high in vitamin D for these people, he suggests taking a vitamin D supplement instead, even though he advises against supplements earlier in the book. One other supplement he suggests people take who are following his whole foods, plant based diet is vitamin B12 because this crucial vitamin is lacking in his suggested diet. Doesn't that indicate that our bodies are designed to eat animal foods that naturally contain vitamin B12?

True vitamin A can only be obtained from animal foods. Beta carotene in plant foods is a pre-cursor to vitamin A and must be converted in the body to true vitamin A. Many people, especially children, the elderly and those who have hypothyroidism, can not make this conversion at all. Following Campbell's diet would surely lead to a vitamin A deficiency for many people.

It is interesting to note that much of the funding that Campbell received for his rat study and other studies he did looking at the relationship between diet and cancer, came from the National Institutes of Health and later the American Cancer Society, the American Institute for Cancer research and the Cancer Research Foundation of America. The NIH also funded the Framingham study that unsuccessfully attempted to show that animal fats were responsible for heart disease. Numerous other studies, and millions of tax dollars, have been conducted in an attempt to find good quality animal foods responsible for disease and they have failed.

Why does Dr. Campbell have such a bias against animal proteins and considers them the main culprit for disease when the more probable cause of chronic disease are sugars, grains, soy and polyunsaturated oils? Campbell even admits the dangerous consequences of eating sugar, white flour and other processed foods. Yet he never considers this in his argument as the main culprit in disease. Gary Taubes, in his book Good Calories, Bad Calories" convincingly delineates the argument that sugars and grains are responsible for chronic disease. Campbell repeatedly tells us that chronic disease is a symptom of Western societies because of these countries high meat consumption. Yet he completely ignores the fact that refined carbohydrates, sugars, polyunsaturated oils and soy are also a big component of Western society diets. In response to Campbell's allegation that animal protein causes cancer, Denise Minger comments: "But when we actually track down the direct correlation between animal protein and cancer, there is no statistically significant positive trend. None." Minger also states: "In fact, when we look solely at the variable `death from all cancers,' the association with plant protein is +12. With animal protein, it's only +3. So why is Campbell linking animal protein to cancer, yet implying plant protein is protective against it?" Campbell quotes some scientists and doctors that support his point of view but fails to discuss the long list of scientists, doctors and evidence that proves his perspective is inaccurate. What about the observations of Albert Schweitzer, Samuel Hutton, Stanislas Tanchou and John Yudkin to name a few?

Campbell states that plant proteins, including wheat and soy, do not have a negative effect and do not promote cancer growth. He says "In these experiments, plant protein did not promote cancer growth, even at the higher levels of intake" and that "The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy." Does he not know about the serious health problems caused by wheat and soy? Wheat is problematic for many individuals for many reasons. Wheat and other grains get broken down into sugars in the body raising insulin levels and in excess and can lead to insulin resistance to name one significant problem. They are addictive because of their opiate effect in the gut. Denise Minger clearly shows a positive correlation with wheat consumption and many different diseases. Wheat contains phytates which block mineral absorption in the gut. Also, many people are gluten intolerant and thus need to avoid wheat.

Soy is full of goitrogens that depress the thyroid, phytates that block mineral absorption in the gut, isoflavones that are phyto-endocrine disruptors, trypsin inhibitors which interfere with protein digestion, phytoestrogens which disrupt endocrine function, promote breast cancer and cause hypothyroidism, and much more. Campbell tells us to eat soy as part of a healthy diet to avoid cancer. Denise Minger paints a different picture. "Looks to me like breast cancer may have links with sugar and alcohol, and perhaps also with hexachlorocyclohexane and occupational hazards associated with industry work. Again, why is Campbell singling out fat from animal products when other--stronger--correlations are present?" He tells us of the dangers of early menarche and cancer risk yet forgets to mention that soy fed to female babies and girls leads to early menarche.

Dr. Campbell also seems to be ignorant of the numerous phytochemicals found in plant foods. One of these is phytic acid, discussed above, which is found in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. He fails to discuss the importance of properly preparing grains, seeds, nuts and legumes by sprouting, soaking or lacto-fermenting, in order to neutralize the anti-nutrients found in these foods.

Cruciferous vegetables are also recommended in Campbell's diet. Yet cruciferous vegetables can be problematic for many individuals especially if they are not prepared properly to neutralize their anti-nutrients. This family of vegetables contains goitrogens, which depress the thyroid gland. They are particularly dangerous if the diet does not contain enough iodine. Cruciferous vegetables also contain nitriles. Nitriles "can release cyanide into tissues and result in general toxicity at high doses."

Dr. Campbell dedicates a section of his book to kidney stones and blames animal protein as the culprit. However, plant foods seem to play a major role in the formation of kidney stones. Kidney stones are caused by oxalates, the salt form of oxalic acid. Oxalates combine with metals in the body to form kidney stones. Calcium is the most common of these metals. Oxalate crystals are produced in very high amounts by mold and fungus and sugars and grains feed fungus like Candida in the body. Some foods that are excessively high in oxalates are soy protein and spinach; the very same foods Campbell suggests we eat. Examples of other vegetarian foods that contain high amounts of oxalates are peanuts, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, wheat germ, leeks, soy and more.

Campbell also recommends eating the nightshade plants but fails to mention that they can cause calcinosis, which is a "toxic calcification of soft tissues when eaten by animals." Other phytochemicals found in nightshades are solanine which is "a poison that can cause gastrointestinal and neurologic disorders," nicotine, and capsaicin which is an "irritant that produces a burning sensation in tissues with which it comes into contact." More phytochemicals found in plant foods are saponins found in foods like soybeans, chick peas and other beans, have been linked to leaky gut syndrome. Lectins found mostly in beans and grains, including soy, can "cause leaky gut, immune system reactions and blood clotting." Salicylates are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables like dried fruits, most berries, oranges, nectarines, grapefruit, most varieties of apples and more and they "can cause dilated blood vessels, constricted bronchial passages and mucus production as well as asthma, hives, nasal polyps, chronic swelling and a wide variety of gastrointestinal symptoms."

Campbell's arguments and facts showing the health benefits of plant foods and their protection against disease, fail to pass the test. For example, Denise Minger's reply to Campbell's allegation that green vegetables are protective of disease is: "Since only frequency and not actual quantity of greens seems protective of heart disease and stroke, it's safe to say that greens probably aren't the true protective factor." Campbell's praise of fiber also falls short. Konstaintin Monastyrsky tells us "When we eat too much fiber digestion lasts longer and fermentation occurs, endangering the bacterial flora and causing problems such as bloating, flatulence and enlarged stools, leading to constipation or diarrhea, IBS and diverticular disease."

Our digestive tracts are designed for an omnivorous diet. For example, our stomachs produce hydrochloric acid for animal protein digestion. Our digestive tracts resemble carnivorous animals and not herbivorous animals. Do we ignore natures design to follow Campbell's advice because of his numerous credentials and awards?

Campbell is either unaware of or again, omits from his discussion, the destruction vegetarian and vegan diets do to our soils, ecosystems, environment, natural waters and the enormous amount of fossil fuels needed to grow and transport plant foods if animals are not part of the picture. Lierre Keith paints a complete picture of this truth in her book "The Vegetarian Myth." Lierre Keith asks advocates of vegan diets "what is going to fertilize the soils that grow their grains and plant crops, fossil fuel or manure?" And what about eating locally? That means no more brown rice and seaweed for many vegetarians.

I agree with Dr. Campbell's statement "...that a good diet is the most powerful weapon we have against disease and sickness." I completely disagree with him on what constitutes a good diet. I followed his recommended whole foods, plant based diet for years believing it to be good for my health. Shortly after I began this diet, my health began to deteriorate, I gained weight and the longer I stayed on the diet, the worse I felt. It took me a long time to realize that my whole foods, plant based diet was the culprit because everything I read told me otherwise. I finally came across the studies of Weston A. Price and changed my diet to include lots of good quality animal foods, especially animal fats, from range raised, grass-fed animals. I immediately felt better and eventually recovered my health. So I don't care how many degrees Dr. Campbell has, I know empirically that my body needs quality nutrient dense animal foods in order for me to maintain my optimal weight and health.

Devil in the Milk, Keith Woodward.

The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre Keith

Chris Masterjohn

Wise Traditions Heart Disease Issue.

What Causes Heart Disease, Sally Fallon Morell, Mary Enig PhD, Wise Traditions Heart Disease Issue

Oiling of America, Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon, Wise Traditions Heart Disease Issue.

Good Calories, Bad Calories, Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, Gary Taubes

Bearers of the Cross: Crucifers in the Context of Traditional Diets and Modern Science, Chris Masterjohn, Wise Traditions, Summer 2007.

The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders, William Shaw, Wise Traditions Spring 2010.

Nightshades, Garrett Smith, Wise Traditions-spring 2010.

Plants Bite Back, Kaayla Daniel, Wise Traditions spring 2010.

Denise Minger [....]

Fiber Menace by Konstaintin Monastyrsky book review, Kathryne Pirtle, Wise Traditions, Winter 2006

The Whole Soy Story, Kaayla T Daniel, PhD, CCN.
44 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
41 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2012
Two years ago, in August of '09, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, incurable cancer of the bone marrow. I passed on conventional medicine and did the Gerson Therapy for two years. It involves 12 vegetable juices a day, coffee enemas and a fruit/vegetable diet. After two years on the therapy, my disease was stable (it worsened the first few months and then held stable) and I was exhausted.

Since I didn't feel well and I hadn't improved, I switched to the Gonzalez protocol and Dr. Gonzalez told me to eat red meat 4-5 times per week plus butter, eggs and dairy; all organic, of course. He prescribes a different diet for everyone based on genetics; some patients are on plant based, raw diets and some eat red meat three times a day. I happen to be in the middle of the vegetarian/carnivore spectrum so I eat a variety of plant and animal foods. Once I moved from a plant based diet to a diet that includes a lot of red meat and other animal products, my cancer began melting away. You can read about it at [...]. Please feel free to contact me via my blog with questions.

The point here is that a plant based diet works for some but certainly not for everyone. Red meat does not feed cancer. Cancer is like cockroaches; it'll thrive on anything you feed it. There are studies that show that sugar, fruit, meat and even Vitamin C feed cancer. It's a matter of what you choose to believe. Anyone with a blood disease such as leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma needs red meat, sometimes in very large quantities. If a plant based diet makes you feel great, then that's what you should consume. But it doesn't work for everyone and it didn't work for me. I wish that one diet was right for everyone because it would make my life much easier; I would know exactly how to feed my daughters to optimize their health.

The data from Dr. Campbell's China study was first published in the book "Diet, Lifestyle and Mortality in China". In many cases, there is no significant correlation between animal protein and cancer. There is, however, an apparent correlation between sugar and cancer.

I admire and respect Dr. Campbell for his well intentioned efforts to educate his readers about good health and the corruption of the conventional medical system. Sadly, though, I'm afraid a book like this could do a lot of harm. Campbell is not a practicing physician and has no real world experience to support his beliefs.

I know this is a sensitive topic. I thought a fruit/vegetable diet was going to save my life! The most important thing that each of us can do it tune into our bodies. The diet that allows us to function at the highest levels of energy and fitness it what is best. It's different for everyone. Trust the body that God gave you to tell you the truth.
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