Many people interested in health and diet have heard of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Published in 2005, the book details the food eaten by people in different areas of China and the correlation to health problems. The basic conclusion from this study was that animal foods cause cancer and heart disease, while a plant based vegan diet is the healthiest. It is one of the most often quoted sources I’ve seen in the past few years when claiming a vegan or vegetarian diet is best for human health. If you’re like me following an SCD, GAPS or Primal type diet, you will have people questioning you about eating so much meat and fat, and you will at some point hear someone referring to this study as their ultimate “Ha! You’re wrong!” argument. I’ve even heard people following the SCDiet successfully and overcoming digestive problems turn around and ask “but will I get cancer since I’m eating so much meat?”.
I have read rebuttals against the China Study before but this past week read through a most interesting and thorough discussion of not just the China Study book, but of the actual raw data the study was based on. Denise from Raw Food SOS took the time to sort through all the data and what she found was quite interesting. Many of the claims made by Campbell were simply false. Read her full post here: http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/.
Of particular interest was the correlation between wheat and cancer and heart disease. Most people are aware that wheat can impact the digestive system and is the main cause of Celiac Disease, but here it is shown to have an effect on other health issues that are usually attributed to red meat and saturated fat. (Note, +’s are bad here, -‘s are good, bold emphasis is mine)
“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? (None of these correlations appear to be tangled with any risk-heightening variables, either.)”
This led me to find a number of other people who have questioned wheat’s role in heart disease including Brad Marshall who wrote about it shortly after The China Study came out. You can read his take here:
Denise also points out that Campbell had completely removed data of one group of people from the study. These people ate a lot of dairy and animal protein, almost to an extreme compared to the other groups, some of which ate a mostly plant-based diet. How can we believe a study that purposely omits data, especially data that clearly shows the opposite of what is being claimed is true?
“Why does Campbell overlook the unique Tuoli peoples documented in the China Study, who eat twice as much animal protein as the average American (including two pounds of casein-filled dairy per day)—yet don’t exhibit higher rates of any diseases Campbell ascribes to animal foods?“
If you want to see other blogger’s reactions to Denise’s work, check out The China Study Smackdown Roundup for a list of links, over at Free The Animal: http://freetheanimal.com/2010/07/the-china-study-smackdown-roundup.html.
Make sure to check out Chris Masterjohn’s work: http://westonaprice.org/blogs/the-curious-case-of-campbells-rats-does-protein-deficiency-prevent-cancer.html.
And finally I just want to add a bit of advice. Cut out the junk food, sugar, juices, pasteurized skim milk, rancid vegetable oils, and poorly processed grains. Then you can start playing around with ratios of meat, vegetables, fruit etc. Eat real food!