The China Study Book Summary

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The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

The China Study clearly lays out how the current Western diet can be improved to prevent lifestyle diseases. We say: Most important book on nutrition and health


Saul, who had a good reputation, changed into Paul. In much the same way, T. Colin Campbell, author of “The China Study”, underwent a major transformation. In “The China Study”, Campbell summarizes an overwhelming amount of evidence from renowned scientists and shows that eating significantly less animal protein is the most important step in preventing common lifestyle diseases. He also discusses the fact that it is often possible to cure yourself by making changes to your diet.

Since the food and pharmaceutical industries have almost unlimited means and actively prevent change toward a healthy diet, evidence of this magnitude is required for the public to have a change of opinion. Business, government, media, and the health care system are closely linked. A good fable (lie) persists forever. But understanding the truth requires the ability to perceive and think.

  1. Summary

The author, Campbell, describes quite convincingly how he swore by animal protein as a child and young adult. His dissertation was also based on his conviction that animal protein was of particular importance. He wanted to promote a higher consumption of meat, milk, and eggs as he believed this would help to improve people’s overall health. For a number of years, the author worked on a related project in the Philippines.

During this ten-year project, the main goal was to get children to eat more animal protein. One of the ways they did this was to establish “self-help” education centers. Then he discovered that Children who ate the highest-protein diets were the ones most likely to get liver cancer (p. 5).

The author then found out that rat experiments conducted in India had come to the same conclusion, but the results were considered implausible. However, his team came to the same results with experiments using transgenic mice. It is not genes that are the deciding factor of whether a person falls victim to one of the ten leading causes of death; instead, it is what they eat. This was a defining moment for Campbell.

The tests carried out by his team over a period of 27 years were funded by major national institutions and verified a second time by some of the best scientific journals.

The results were shocking for scientists: a low-protein diet inhibited the development of cancer caused by aflatoxin. This type of diet also inhibited any existing cancer growth.

Some proteins did not promote cancer. However casein, which makes up to 87 % of the protein in cow’s milk, promoted all stages of cancer growth. Plants, on the other hand, delivered safe proteins.

Dr. Campbell writes how four decades of biomedical research and results of long-term studies have shown (with provocative results) that a healthy diet can save your life. He then lists out the following benefits:

  • Dietary change can enable diabetic patients to go off their medication.
  • Heart disease can be reversed with diet alone.
  • Breast cancer is related to levels of female hormones in the blood, which are determined by the food we eat.
  • Consuming dairy foods can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, are linked to better mental performance in old age.
  • Kidney stones can be prevented by a healthy diet.
  • Type 1 diabetes, one of the most devastating diseases that can befall a child, is convincingly linked to infant feeding practices (p. 3).

He came to these conclusions after conducting a massive human study in which 6’500 Chinese from rural areas in several different provinces of China participated. Two universities in the United States and one in China worked jointly on the project—under the direction of the author.

Finally, Campbell concludes that the boundaries between politicsgovernment, the food industrypharmaceutical companiesscience and medicine have blurred over time. Justice and health are the losers. Since this is not recognized for what it is, it is more dangerous than corruption.


The result is massive amounts of misinformation, for which average American consumers pay twice. They provide the tax money to do the research, and then they provide the money for their health care to treat their largely preventable diseases (p. 8).



Personal comments

Since these facts are so contrary to the information provided by the food industry, government, medicine, and others, you may find them hard to accept unless you have already discovered this information on your own or you actually read the book, which contains overwhelming evidence from studies of many leading scientists.

The introduction, which is more than eight pages long, contains several interesting statements, such as the following: But the real science has been buried under a clutter of irrelevant or even harmful information—pseudoscience, fad diets, and food industry propaganda.

The general public really doesn’t eat a healthy diet, and this is reflected in the large number of lifestyle diseases. These usually only develop after a few decades, similar to the problems connected with tobacco smoking.

This book, however, is addressed to “typical Western consumers,” who probably think they are eating a healthy diet.

The danger is that we often don’t notice that our health is deteriorating because this happens very slowly over several decades. And we often look to those around us when it comes to determining what is right or healthy. We consider lifestyle diseases normal.

  1. Book Review

Dr. Campbell states that he was part of the system at the highest levels for nearly fifty years (at that point). He also describes why we now are where we are. For this, he lists out several important points:

  • Synthetic chemicals in the environment and in your food, as problematic as they may be, are not the main cause of cancer.
  • The genes that you inherit from your parents are not the most important factors in determining whether you fall prey to any of the ten leading causes of death.
  • The hope that genetic research will eventually lead to drug cures for diseases ignores more powerful solutions that can be employed today.
  • Obsessively controlling your intake of any one nutrient, such as carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, or omega-3 fats, will not result in long-term health.
  • Vitamins and nutrient supplements do not give you long-term protection against disease.
  • Drugs and surgery don’t cure the diseases that kill most Americans.
  • Your doctor probably does not know what you need to do to be the healthiest you can be (p. 2).

Part I: The China Study

The actual “China Study” is covered in the chapter “Lessons from China” on 40 pages. Before this, we learn interesting things about Campbell’s life that also show how he made the transformation from a Saul to a Paul in the biblical sense, something that only few people are able to accomplish. The rest focuses on the findings from “The China Study” and the reasons why these have not yet been truly put into practice.

2.1. Problems We Face, Solutions We Need (p. 11)

Campbell includes a graph showing that 47 % of men and 38 % of women are likely to contract cancer. Readers can see that cancer death rates increased from 1972 to 1992 rather than decreased. At the same time, the percentage of obese (BMI = >30) people in the population more than doubled from 1976 to 1999. Expenses for diabetes alone are around $100 billion a year.

In the meantime, treatment costs have spiraled out of control. In 1997, a trillion dollars or $3’912 per person was spent on health care in the US. This is more than twice as much per person as compared to Japan ($1’760), which, if we disregard microstates like Monaco, is the country with the highest life expectancy. Germany spent $2’364 per person.

OECD data from 2009 shows that health care costs increased to $7’290 per person in the US, $3’588 in Germany, $3’763 in Austria, and $4’417 in Switzerland.

These costs also rose considerably based on gross national income (see also GDP and GNP) and in 2009 were at 16 percent of the GDP in the United States. The US, in particular, is expecting more rapid rises in health care costs.


Dr. T. Colin Campbell writes, I did not begin with preconceived ideas, philosophical or otherwise, to prove the worthiness of plant-based diets. I started at the opposite end of the spectrum: as a meat-loving dairy farmer in my personal life and an ‘establishment’ scientist in my professional life. I even used to lament the views of vegetarians as I taught nutritional biochemistry to pre-med students (p. 21).

Campbell explains how the findings from these studies were met with resistance. Since many medical professionals are not familiar with the subject, they either have difficulty accepting the following statement or can’t accept it at all:


Additionally, impressive evidence now exists to show that advanced heart disease, relatively advanced cancers of certain types, diabetes, and a few other degenerative diseases can be reversed by diet (p. 23).


I frequently hear doctors and sick people making the excuse that certain diseases are the result of genetics. Of course, genetic predisposition is an important factor, but the following statement is also true: We now know that we can largely avoid these ‘genetic’ diseases even though we may harbor the gene (or genes) that is (are) responsible for the disease (p. 23).

2.2. A Hause of Protein (p. 27)

Nitrogen-containing protein has been considered the most sacred of all nutrients since it was discovered by Dutch chemist Gerardus Johannes Mulder in 1839. The word “proteios” even means “of prime importance.” In the 19th century, protein was considered tantamount to meat or foods of animal origin. This myth still exists, even among physicians.

German physiologist Carl von Voit (1831–1908) discovered that humans need 48.5 g of protein, but still recommended 118 g per day. He thought that too much of a good thing didn’t exist. What a setback this caused because of his ignorance of the fundamental laws of nature!

It makes sense then that the West tries to help starving people in developing countries primarily by providing them with protein sources. The author describes how Professor Charlie Engel (1912–2007, actually Ruben W. Engel), the head of the Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition at Virginia Tech at the time, recruited him in 1967 to work on a “mothercraft” project in the Philippines.

On a flight, Campbell happened to meet a former colleague from MIT,Professor Paul Newberne, who was studying the relationship between diet and cancer at the time. He vehemently denied that there was any relationship between the two and believed that the opposite was true.

The author explains how different the process of establishing scientific proof is in the areas of physics, medicine, and medical research.


The China Study utilized more than 8’000 statistically significant correlations. The statistical significance is also of importance. If an investigation proves with the probability of 95 % that chance didn’t play a role, the result is significant, and at 99 % it is highly statistically significant. Known mechanisms of action: the results of other studies are capable of strengthening the reliability of a result or decreasing it. Meta-analyses of a variety of studies may potentially improve certainty.

2.3. Turning Off Cancer (p. 43)

The author describes how Americans react with panic to any report about carcinogens. He gives the example of how it used to be common practice to routinely spray Alar, a chemical that was used as a growth regulator. Campbell then lists out other carcinogenic substances such as DDTnitrites, and artificial sweeteners.


Campbell then describes the three stages of cancer (carcinogenesis): initiation (for lipid peroxidation as well), promotion, and progression. Another term for progression is metastasis.

He includes a chart that clearly illustrates the four steps of initiation with aflatoxin. Aflatoxin enters a liver cell, it gets metabolized by an enzyme, and converted into a dangerous product, which attacks the cell’s DNA. Sometimes the cell multiplies before the damaged (DNA) gets repaired, and then permanently damaged, cancerous cells arise.

As part of a study he conducted, Campbell investigated the mixed-function oxidase (MFO) enzyme, which is very complex and acts as a catalyst to convert various materials. This serves to detoxify aflatoxin, but also activates in, converting it into aflatoxin metabolites. Just changing the amount of protein consumed strongly alters the enzyme activity (catalytic activity).

An intake of 10 % protein is already considerably more than humans need, but the 10 % is recommended in order to ensure adequate intake for virtually everyone. Anything above that is harmful.

Americans consume approximately 15–16 % protein. As a comparison, a 1.5 ounce (45 g) porterhouse steak contains 13 grams of protein.


After obtaining these results, Campbell had David Schulsinger examine whether or not plant protein acted the same way. The answer is no. Plant protein did not promote cancer, but cow’s milk protein did.


The findings of these experiments: Nutrients from animal-based foods increased tumor development while nutrients from plant-based foods decreased tumor development.

Another group researching breast cancer and different carcinogens came to the same conclusion (p. 66).

2.4. Lessons from China (p. 69)

In 1983, the premier of China, Zhou Enlai (1898–1976), was diagnosed with cancer. That is why he initiated a nationwide survey on the occurrence of 12 types of cancer in more than 2’400 Chinese counties and 880 million (96 %) of their inhabitants. This is how the most ambitious biomedical project ever came into being—one with 650’000 employees.

The result of the project was a map that showed how cancer rates differed greatly according to the area and lifestyle. Some counties had over 100 times the rate of cancer incidence than others. In the US, the ratio is only 1 to 3 from one state to the next. Overall, there were significantly fewer cancer cases in China than in the US.

© CC-by 2.0, Catalina Sparleanu, PhD, Wikipedia, Xufanc, Foundation Diet and Health Switzerland

Campbell writes:


I have never pursued health hoping for immortality. Good health is about being able to fully enjoy the time we do have. It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives and avoiding crippling, painful, and lengthy battles with disease (p. 75).


Age-standardized comparisons of causes of death between industrialized countries and other countries show that coronary heart disease and breast cancer occur much more frequently in Western countries. The author calls these “Western diseases”, diseases of affluence and diseases of nutritional extravagance (p. 76).


Finally, Campbell addresses the importance of dietary fiber, which is found exclusively in plant-based foods. Fiber consists of highly complex carbohydrate molecules. It binds water and also attracts harmful chemical substances, similar to sticky tape. It reduces the caloric density of our food and creates a feeling of satiety.


Finally, the author discusses the importance of the many colors of fruit that come from antioxidants and their importance for our health. Campbell describes the relationships and the reasons why plants, in particular, need to contain a great deal of antioxidants and how that affects us.

Other problems that became evident during the studies were malnutrition, plant-based diets with insufficient variety and inadequate quality, parasitic diseaseschildhood diseases, and tuberculosis—and this with a poor health care system.

Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV), in particular, was something that occurred often. In some areas, half of the people had a chronic infection, compared with 0.2–0.3 % in the US. Liver cancer was therefore very common, but this again was mostly in areas with high casein or meat consumption—just like in the animal experiments!

His finding: casein, and very likely all animal proteins, may be the most relevant cancer-causing substances that we consume (p. 104).

Part II: Diseases of Affluence

In this part of the book, we learn specifics about individual diseases of affluence, which are also called lifestyle diseases. These are diseases triggered by lifestylebehavior, and environmental factors that are prevalent in industrialized countries. The positive aspects of our current civilization, as far as health is concerned, are improved hygienemedical advances in disease prevention (e.g., vaccinations), treatment possibilities (e.g., antibiotics), and a secure food supply.

2.5. Broken Hearts (p. 111)

Campbell tells the reader that about 3’000 Americans suffer a heart attack each day. This is about the same number of people who died in the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) (p. 111).

We then read important details about the Framingham Heart Study. It showed, for example, that men with cholesterol levels above 244 mg/dL suffer three times more heart attacks than men with values below 210 mg/dL.


It was determined that eating plant protein has even greater power to lower cholesterol levels than reducing fat or cholesterol intake (p. 119).

Despite these findings, the battle between representatives of the status quo and representatives of prevention through nutritional education continue. Surgery and drugs are used and considered important—but what about prevention? For decades, the establishment refused to accept any evidence about the effectiveness of diet changes and went so far as to negate it.


Campbell points out that 35 % of all heart attacks happen to Americans with a cholesterol level between 150 and 200 mg/dL. This means that 65 % have levels higher than 200 mg/dL, or 5.2 mmol/L and above. A truly safe cholesterol level is below 150 mg/dL or 3.9 mmol/L. The total fat intake should be no more than 10 % of the total calories.

2.6. Obesity (p. 135)

The next problem with our Western diet is that it causes us to gain weight. A person with a BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and with a BMI greater than 30 obese. Approximately 15 % of children and adolescents in the US between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese and another 15 % are at risk of becoming overweight (p. 136).

Campbell describes the consequences for adults, the things they may not be able to do because they are overweight or obese.

He also points out that medical care costs related to obesity came to $70 billion in 1999 and rose to $100 billion by 2002, just 3 years later. The $30–40 billion dollars spent on preventative measures (special diet plans and pills) is not even included.

The author writes:


Some people become vegetarian only to replace meat with dairy foods, added oils and refined carbohydrates, including pasta made with refined grains, sweets and pastries. I refer to these people as ‘junk-food vegetarians’ because they are not consuming a nutritious diet (p. 140).


The author also discusses the importance of regular physical activity and thermogenesis, which is the production of body heat. He observes that vegetarians … have a slightly higher rate of metabolism during rest, meaning they burn up slightly more of their ingested calories as body heat rather than depositing them as body fat (p. 142). He does not say that natural vegetarian food would be harder to digest.

2.7. Diabetes (p. 145)

A graph from H. P. Himsworth shows the relationship between diet and death rate due to diabetes at around 1925, a time when today’s treatment methods didn’t yet exist. It clearly demonstrates: As carbohydrate intake goes up and fat intake goes down, the number of deaths from diabetes plummets from 20.4 to 2.9 per 100’000 people (p. 149).

Campbell describes several studies that all point in the same direction:

Less animal-based food equals less diabetes. 

This is difficult to imagine. Studies in England and Wales during the war and immediately thereafter, from 1940 to 1950, demonstrate the same pattern. Since people were eating fewer animal-based foods during this time, the rate of diabetes dropped significantly.

2.8. Common Cancers: Breast, Prostate, Large Bowel (p. 157)

Campbell discusses breast cancer first. He goes over the genetic risk factors BRCA1 and BRCA2 and the greater impact one’s lifestyle has. He states that if the problem is recognized earlier, that this doesn’t automatically mean a prolongation of life.

He summarizes several studies, some of which suggest that the anti-estrogen tamoxifen can prevent the occurrence of breast cancer. However, European studies have denied any statistically significant benefit of tamoxifen, and instead stress the risk of stroke, uterine cancercataracts, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.

It is known that colorectal cancer, including rectal cancer, is very different from culture to culture. Previously, genetic differences were thought to be the cause. But today science recognizes lifestyle as the actual cause. The China Study also strongly confirms this.


The author recommends a colonoscopy every 5 to 10 years starting at 50 and for at-risk patients starting at age 40. Genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer is effective for only 1 to 3 percent, but previous incidence in the family is more significant. Family members also tend to have similar eating habits.

Regarding prostate cancer, the author explains that about half of all men over 70 have latent prostate cancer. But only 7 % of those diagnosed with prostate cancer die within five years. He confirms that nutrition plays a key role as to whether prostate cancer develops or not.

Surprisingly, one of the most consistent, specific links between diet and prostate cancer has been dairy consumption.

The author explains: The widespread communities of nutrition professionals, researchers, and doctors are, as a whole, either unaware of this evidence or reluctant to share it. Because of these failings, Americans are being cheated out of information that could save their lives (p. 182).

2.9. Autoimmune Diseases (p.183)

In this group of diseases, the body systematically attacks itself. This is difficult to treat, and the result is a progressive loss of physical and mental function. The author lists out 17 autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetesrheumatoid arthritisthyroid disorders (such as Graves’ disease), vitiligo, and pernicious anemia due to type A gastritis.

The author explains that the immune system is a system and not an organ. It is like a military network that exists to ward off foreign invaders. He then explains its individual parts, their function, and how they work. The white blood cells formed from stem cells in the bone marrow (leukocytes) are called B-cells (bones). In addition, immature cells migrate to the thymus, which specializes them as needed. These are called T-helper cells. Foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, are protein molecules called antigens. The body develops a kind of “mirror image” protein that fits perfectly onto the antigen and destroys it. The mirror image protein is called a receptor protein.

During the process of digestion, for example, some proteins slip into our bloodstream from the intestine without being fully broken down into their amino acid parts. … One of the foods that supply many of the foreign proteins that mimic our own body proteins is cow’s milk (p. 186).

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We consider regular eating habits and common lifestyle diseases to be “normal.” Healthy eating habits, on the other hand, are thought to be weird—only exercise is considered healthy.

2.10. Wide-Ranging Effects: Bone, Kidney, Eye, and Brain Diseases (p. 203)

Campbell tries to get us to seriously consider the very significant correlations between plant-based food and good health versus animal-based products and lifestyle diseases by discussing an overwhelming diversity and number of studies conducted by other researchers.

You can support virtually any viewpoint with an individual study, but when thousands of scientific studies show that a predominantly plant-based diet leads to better health, people should pay attention.

In regards to osteoporosis, he shows that regions where people consume more cow’s milk and dairy products also have a greater incidence of osteoporosis and vice versa. American women over 50, for example, have one of the highest rates of hip fractures in the world. Some European countries, Australia, and New Zealand consume more dairy products and have even higher rates!

The fact that animal protein results in excess acid in the body has been known since the 1880s and was documented in 1920. But the body keeps the pH in the blood very constant at a pH of 7.36 to 7.44. It uses calcium as a very effective base to neutralize the acid. Since the calcium must come from somewhere, it is pulled out of the bones, which, in turn, weakens the bones enormously.

He then gives some other advice on how to decrease your risk of osteoporosis: Plenty of calcium is available in a wide range of plant foods, including beans and leafy vegetables. As long as you stay away from refined carbohydrates, like sugary cereals, candies, plain pastas, and white breads, you should have no problem with calcium deficiency (p. 211). In this case, he is speaking to people who live exclusively or almost vegan. In addition, he mentions that excessive salt consumption can be a problem.

Campbell next discusses a variety of eye problems. What we eat at meals primarily has an effect on cataract (clouding of the lens in the eye) and macular degeneration. Millions of older Americans suffer from diseases such as these.

Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables can play a significant role in preventing this disease. The author explains the relationships involved and discusses two authoritative studies. The findings of these two studies suggested that as much as 70–88 % of blindness caused by macular degeneration could be prevented if the right foods are eaten (p. 215).


Old age is often accompanied by a slowly decreasing ability to remember and think. Some people, however, develop dementia, which ultimately becomes a life-threatening mental disorder. This includes vascular dementia, a disease caused by multiple small brain strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is about four times more common. With Alzheimer’s, the protein amyloid beta accumulates in important parts of the brain as a plaque.

Animal-based foods lack antioxidant shields and tend to activate free radical production and cell damage, while plant-based foods, with their abundant antioxidants, tend to prevent such damage (p. 219).

Studies on children of people who, for example, left Africa or Japan and adopted the Western lifestyle, clearly demonstrate that lifestyle is much more important than genetic predisposition.

Sometimes, this is unavoidable, but in other circumstances, this manner of research is foolish and has no practical relevance.

The Framingham Study showed, for example, that for every three additional servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the risk of stroke will be reduced by 22 % (p. 220). The author reasons that with a radical change in diet the risk reduction can get close to 100 %.

He describes a large number of studies that, for example, also showed that low homocysteine levels and high folic acid levels are desirable.

He further describes how friends and people he grew up with often said that they considered him to be a health nut and that they would eat a steak whenever they wanted to, and smoke, and do whatever else they wanted. Some of them have already died, while others are living in nursing homes. The author himself is about 80 years old (born in 1934) and is still enjoying the benefits of having a healthy and strong body.

Part III: The Good Nutrition Guide

Campbell shares two common adages with readers: Americans love hogwash and Americans love to hear good things about their bad habits (p. 224).

Very little of the nutrition information that makes it to the public consciousness is soundly based in science, and we pay a grave price. One day olive oil is terrible, the next it is heart healthy. One day eggs will clog your arteries, the next they are a good source of protein. One day potatoes and rice are great, the next they are the gravest threats to your weight you will ever face (p. 224).

2.11. Eating Right: Eight Principles of Food and Health (p. 225)

Drs. Campbell begin this chapter with 20 reasons why you should choose a healthy lifestyle. And who of us who are 50 or older don’t want to look younger, feel younger, have more energy, and avoid impotence for as long as possible? But we can achieve even more with a better lifestyle.

His eight principles are as follows:


  1. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  2. Vitamin supplements are not a panacea for good health.
  3. There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.
  4. Genes do not determine disease on their own.
  5. Nutrition can substantially control the adverse effects of noxious chemicals.
  6. The same nutrition that prevents disease in its early stages (before diagnosis) can also halt or reverse disease in its later stages (after diagnosis).
  7. Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.
  8. Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.


2.12. How to Eat (p. 241)

Campbell opposes deprivation and complex weight loss plans that usually only lead to a yo-yo effect. He writes, My advice is to try to eliminate all animal-based products from your diet, but not obsess over it (p. 242).

However, this requires a radical change in your thinking. Cutting out only some animal-based products simply takes more work. He believes that a radical change for just one month, to try it out, is much better. Give it one month. You’ve been eating cheeseburgers your whole life; a month without them won’t kill you (p. 244).

Campbell emphasizes the fact that the large number of plant-based foods and herbs and spices available make it possible for you to have a varied and tasty diet—even without pasta and baked goods.

 Part IV: Why Haven’t You Heard This Before?

People who are new to this subject often wonder why they generally have heard the opposite: that milk and meat are practically the best types of food. The author explains why and begins with this statement: As you will come to see, much is governed by the Golden Rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. There are powerful, influential and enormously wealthy industries that stand to lose a vast amount of money if Americans start shifting to a plant-based diet (p. 249).

Campbell doesn’t believe that the industry pays scientists to “cook the data” or conduct other illegal activities. However, he writes, The entire system—government, science, medicine, industry and media—promotes profits over health, technology over food and confusion over clarity (p. 250).

2.13. Science – The Dark Side (p. 251)

The author first explains how great the need is for people with advanced cancer and how by the end of the 1970s, Americans were spending a billion dollars a year for various “miracle cures.”

Dr. Colin Campbell outlines the positions he has held in various organizations, societies, and committees. On the following pages, he describes what he experienced there and how things work in this world of its own.


Campbell concludes with the following:

Only someone familiar with the inside of the system can distinguish between sincere positions based in science and insincere, self-serving position. … It far too often involves money, power, ego and protection of personal interests above the common good. Very few, if any, illegal acts need to occur. (p. 267–268).

You will only be able to really understand this statement by reading the 18 pages of this chapter. I’m surprised at how objectively “cool” he writes about it as if it were just an ordinary news story. An American drama unfolds.

2.14. Scientific Reductionism (p. 269)

We learn how a recommendation must be greatly simplified so as to be understood by a large number of people. Campbell goes over how the 1982 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer, of which he was a co-author, was the first expert panel report that deliberated on the association of diet with cancer. It included chapters on individual nutrients.

Although they recommended getting these nutrients such as vitamins, from natural foods and not pills or supplements, the report found its way to the corporate world and was used as a money-making opportunity. The next thing you know vitamin pills are being advertised as products that prevent cancer. As an example, Campbell describes a product called Healthy Greens, which is a multivitamin supplement of vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, selenium and a miniscule half-gram of dehydrated vegetables (p. 269).

He then discusses a study started in 1976, which had enrolled 120’000 nurses to investigate the relationship between various diseases and oral contraceptives, post-menopausal hormones, cigarettes and other factors, such as hair dyes.5 Beginning in 1980, Professor Willett added a dietary questionnaire to the study and four years later, in 1984, expanded the dietary questionnaire to include more food items. This expanded dietary questionnaire was mailed to nurses again in 1986 and 1990 (p. 272).


The study had serious flaws and as a result, false conclusions were drawn. Such studies that attempt to isolate just one substance don’t reveal the whole truth, but The China Study does indeed cover the full spectrum.

Campbell shows a number of false conclusions from studies he had criticized. Just one example: we found no evidence that lower intake of total fat or specific major types of fat was associated with decreased risk of breast cancer (p. 279). Of course, a study like this would come to such a conclusion—and it cost more than $100 million to boot.

The author then exposes the conflicts he has encountered by publishing his correspondence with Dr. Hu and Professor Willett. In personal conversation, Willett said to him, You may be right, Colin, but people don’t want to go there (p. 287).

2.15. The “Science” of Industry (p. 289)

In this chapter, the author shows just how much power the industry has by listing several sales figures.

The author then lists a number of industry groups that work to increase general demand for their products. … the most powerful among them have yearly budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars (p. 290).

2.16. Government: Is It for the People? (p.305)


Expert government panels have said it, the surgeon general has said it and academic scientists have said it. More people die because of the way they eat than by tobacco use, accidents or any other lifestyle or environmental factor (p. 305).


The author explains how the government acts in practice. He shows the nonsense that occurs by providing various examples from a report issued in 2002 by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) (part of the Institute of Medicine, IOM):

To meet the body’s daily energy and nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45 % to 65 % of their calories from carbohydrates, 20 % to 35 % from fat and 10 % to 35 % from protein. …

… added sugars should comprise no more than 25 % of total calories consumed. … added sugars are those incorporated into foods and beverages during production (p. 306).


Campbell then gives several other examples of ways that individuals and committees are connected to the food industry and how this affects the public. He writes that the Food and Nutrition Board Report discussed above sets us back by years.

The author also describes a positive example in which Dr. Antonia Demas’ Food is Elementary educational program was incorporated into 300 school lunch and behavioral rehabilitation programs around the United States. Her program, which is entirely plant-based, is the total opposite of the government requirement that schools have to offer cow’s milk—and rely mostly on an inventory of animal-based products.

2.17. Big Medicine: Whose Health Are They Protecting? (p. 321)

The author asks the question: So why doesn’t the medical system take nutrition seriously? Four words: money, ego, power and control. The author isn’t referring to individual doctors, but instead to the system with which they work, the system that should be responsible for promoting good health.

He tells us the story of the successful surgeon Dr. Esselstyn. After Esselstyn read the book “The McDougall Plan” by Dr. John A. McDougall, he realized that patients who ate a lot of meat, fat, and refined foods needed to be treated with a low-fat, plant-based diet.

In the next section “Hooked on Drugs,” the author describes the ties between the medical profession and the drug industry. For example, big companies pay PR agencies to write scientific articles and then find researchers who agree to be listed as the authors of these ghost written articles (p. 333).

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 (p. 335).

On the following pages, the author describes the fates of the successful, if not exactly conventional medical doctors Dr. McDougall (see his website www.drmcdougall.com) and Dr. Esselstyn. Both Esselstyn and McDougall have now been denied reentry into the establishment, after headline-making success at healing people with a nutritional approach (p. 341).

But just before that, he describes the following: An interesting situation is now developing: just as with Dr. McDougall, many of the Clinic ‘bigwigs’ with heart disease have themselves gone to Esselstyn for treatment and lifestyle counseling. They know it works, and they seek out the program on their own (p. 341).

2.18. Repeating Histories (p. 343)

In 1985 during a sabbatical in England, Campbell had the opportunity to read much on the topic of diet and cancer at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now called Cancer Research UK) in London.

He found several books written by George Macilwain (1797–1882), who was a prominent surgeon in the early 19th century. He became vegetarian at the age of forty, after identifying ‘grease, fat and alcohol’ as being the chief causes of cancer. (EE: Please note how old he lived to be, which was remarkable for his time.)

He described the concept of the constitutional nature of disease and that a disease is not the result of the failure of a single organ or cell. It is the result of multiple systems throughout the body breaking down (p. 343).

Plato and Socrates knew that 2’500 years ago. Macilwain describes a conversation between them and Glaucon. Glaucon’s arguments seem particularly interesting. Frederick L. Hoffman, who was instrumental in founding the American Cancer Society, also knew that diet was the way to prevent and treat disease (p. 345).

The authors again list out a number of facts and demonstrate how “unhealthy” most Americans are. To this end, they present 15 impressive statistics on the state of the population. Europe is currently heading in the same direction. …

  1. About the book

That the author lists out his numerous works and extraordinary awards may seem a bit arrogant to some readers. However, there are so many “experts” and charlatans in the field of nutrition that it is necessary for him to list out his qualifications. How else would readers be able to evaluate this new and impressive evidence?

In the book, the author doesn’t explain why he does this. But we are reading something from a highly respected top scientist and results from large-scale studies. These were conducted in collaboration with two US universities and numerous other professors. As the author or coauthor, he has written 350 scientific papers. These have included large-scale human studies as well as animal studies. Collaboration with the Chinese for The China Study began in the early 1980s.


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