Dr. T. Colin Campbell's The China Study: Reducing Risk of Disease through a Vegan Diet
Greetings, energetic viewers, and welcome to Healthy Living. Today on our show, we are honored to introduce the esteemed T. Colin Campbell, PhD, a pioneer of nutritional research.
A Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University in the United States, Dr. Campbell has spent over 40 years researching, teaching and developing diets to optimize nutrition and health.
Dr. Campbell received his master’s degree and PhD from Cornell, and served as a Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
He has served on several grant review panels of multiple funding agencies, lectured extensively, and has authored more than 300 research papers.
His original research both in laboratory experiments and in large-scale human studies has brought him recognition as recipients of several awards, both in research and citizenship.
Dr. Campbell is also the Project Director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project, which eventually became known as The China Study, considered the most comprehensive study on the role of diet, disease and health to have ever been conducted.
In 2004, he and his son Tom co-authored the book, “The China Study,” which summarized his career’s worth of research on nutrition, which concludes that a pure, vegan diet is the most optimal for health.
Dr. Campbell continues to actively participate in the development of national and international nutrition policy.
Today’s show is the first of a two part series on Healthy Living featuring Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his research findings on the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Dr Campbell(m): My personal beginning was from the dairy farm.
I was milking cows, typical American boy I suppose and I sort of superficially thought American diet was the best diet there was. And then I went to graduate school at Cornell University and did my doctorate dissertation along those same lines.
In many ways, it was a dissertation research that was intended to promote the consumption of animal based foods: dairy, meat, eggs, milk.
And it was specifically focused on protein.
Dr Campbell(m): In the early 60s, middle 60s, I had an opportunity to work in the Philippines with a rather distinguished man who had been in the business a long time, in nutrition.
And so he and I were in the Philippines, arranging for setting up a nationwide program of feeding malnourished children.
And in those days, the view was that these children who were malnourished in poor countries are nutritionally speaking, either deficient in one of two things: Either they don’t get enough calories or they don’t get enough protein.
Supreme Master TV(f): Okay.
Dr Campbell(m): I learned actually on the golf course playing golf one day, from my Philippine counterpart, a medical doctor that children who were aged four and under, sometimes were susceptible to getting liver cancer, which was very unusual because liver cancer tends to occur in middle to older aged people.
Supreme Master TV(f): Right.
Dr Campbell(m): I started asking around and learned that these children who were more likely getting liver cancer were from families who were the quote unquote “best fed.”
They were consuming the most protein, typical Western diets. They were the richer families.
HOST: At about this time, Dr. Campbell found a study from India also showing a connection between consuming higher levels of animal proteins and liver cancer.
When he returned to the United States, he obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health for a 27-year study that focused on the correlation between protein consumption and cancer development.
Dr Campbell(m): We also did some work to show the protein we were using was animal-based. It was the main protein of cow’s milk and that made it really kind of tricky and kind of difficult for me.
I’m coming from the dairy farm, and here (Right, right.) the protein of cow’s milk as a problem. So then we compared it with a couple of plant proteins, plant proteins didn’t do that.
So all of a sudden, it was pointing a way toward animal-based protein could be a problem but maybe a plant protein would not be.
HOST: When Healthy Living returns, we will learn about The China Study, which shows how high cancer and disease rates are tied to consuming animal foods.
Please keep your dial tuned here to Supreme Master Television.
HOST: Welcome back to Healthy Living on Supreme Master Television featuring renowned author of The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
In the 1980s, Dr. Campbell led The China Study, the most comprehensive research project on the role of diet and disease.
Dr. Campbell: First, I should tell you what “The China Study” is.
The Chinese in the 1970s, had established that cancer was very common in some areas of China and not in others; there were big differences. And so they surveyed how much cancer existed for about 2 dozen different kinds of cancers all across China; they published those results in early 1980s.
And so because of these big differences and also because that people in these different regions tended to live in the same places most of their lives, it was a perfect setting to do a study, to go there and found out what was it that accounted for these really very different rates.
And so we organized a study, it was joint funding from China, United States and Great Britain, and Cornell University, University of Oxford and two Chinese government academies were the lead Institutions.
And so we did the study to measure as many things as we could, because at that time I had certain preconceived notions about what might be causing cancer.
I had been working in the field for at least 20 years before that. And one I had, was that cancer was the result of the multiple factors in food,
Dr Campbell (M): kind of working together.
The second view that I had come to know was that animal protein, when it was tested experimentally, actually can enhance the growth of cancer.
And so those two ideas, the multiplicity of effects together with the idea that animal protein, maybe animal foods, were a problem.
So we set the study up to measure as many things as we could. Collected blood samples, urine samples, food samples, ask questions and then just amassed a really large amount of information.
And from that data set, then we could go back and sort of evaluate, investigate, analyze what this information was telling us.
And there it was quite remarkable because in that area of China, mostly rural China, they don’t eat much in a way of animal-based food and so I didn’t really expect to see much effect, to be honest about it.
But in fact, when you started to look into this mountains and mountains of data, it became quite clear to me that even the introduction of reasonably small amounts of animal food on the diet began to create problems.
Not just for cancer, but also for heart disease and other diseases. And that coincided with what we had been learning in the laboratory.
HOST: The team gathered information from residents of 130 villages, where protein from animal products ranged from zero percent to 20 percent, with the average being 10 percent, a much smaller percentage than in the US, where the average person gets 75 percent of their protein from animal products.
And yet, even at these smaller percentages, they could identify a correlation between consuming more animal-based foods and higher rates of cancer and other deadly diseases.
Dr Campbell (M): And so what we found was that as soon as people start to go from the counties where there’s no animal-based foods up to the level where there is some, that’s when you started to see blood cholesterol levels come up; you start to see cancer start to appear, and increase; you start to see heart disease more; you start to see the kind of diseases that we see in the West.
And that was really quite striking.
That observation though, from the China Study if, standing alone, just standing alone in the scientific sense, doesn’t necessarily say a lot.
I mean it’s certainly suggestive.
But what made that study, what made that observation important was when you compare it with our laboratory work, when you compare it with the work of other people, in other kinds of study, (Supreme Master TV(f): Right.) then it becomes really significant.
Supreme Master TV (M): What evidence is there that a whole food plant-based diet can actually reverse chronic disease?
Dr Campbell (M): Well, we had acquired information that using certain kinds of nutrients characteristic of animal or plant food, that we could actually reverse cancer or at least control it in an experimental study.
Then I came to know Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., at the Cleveland Clinic, who had done something very similar with people, and now he’s published a book himself just in February, on reversing heart disease.
And what he was able to achieve was something truly remarkable. He was taking seriously ill people with heart disease and actually just bringing the disease under control. He actually calls it “cure.”
And what he ended up doing was very similar to another man by the name of Dr. Dean Ornish.
The evidence now shows that we can reverse or at least control heart disease. There is quite a lot of evidence now beginning to emerge that we can control even cancer, experimentally we could do that.
We got to a point where we could turn on and turn off cancer development just by giving animal protein, for example, or taking away, or replacing it with plant protein, it’s quite remarkable.
Supreme Master TV (M): Amazing.
Dr Campbell (M): We do have some humans studies now from other laboratories, other researchers, who are basically demonstrating that cancer can be controlled to some extent.
HOST: His extensive studies brought about Dr. Campbell’s conclusion that an animal-free diet would be most beneficial to our well-being.
I’ve just come to a very different world view. It’s a world view that is based on holistic ideas.
And so I finally got to the place where I was saying that, the closer we get to a plant-based diet, the healthier we are going to be.
HOST: You’ve been watching Healthy Living, airing every Monday on Supreme Master Television. Please tune in next week for Part 2 of our program featuring Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his discussion on how plant-based diets protect and reverse disease.
Supreme Master TV (m): Do we really need a lot of protein in our diet and does a vegetarian diet provide all the vital nutrients that our bodies require?
Dr Campbell (m): What we’re now seeing, at least what my research is showing, is that excessive amounts of protein, if we start consuming protein in excess of what we need, cholesterol levels in our blood starts to rise, atherogenic lesions that lead to heart disease starts to increase.
We get an acidity that then pulls calcium from the bones, we start growing cancers.
And so the question, if we can’t consume excess protein, the question then becomes, what’s excess?
Well, the amount of protein we need is about 8 to 10% of total calories. Most of us, 95% of us in our society, consume somewhere considerably in excess of that; we consume between, about 11 and 25% or so.
And so we put ourselves at risk by doing that.
And plant-based foods, a good plant-based diet, vegetables, fruits, grains, has just about 8 to 10% protein, I mean, nature almost made it so that it was ideal.
HOST: A key finding in both the China Project and Dr. Campbell’s research is that excess animal protein is a potent trigger for cancer growth and other diseases.
In addition, in the case of breast cancer, he recognizes the role of excess estrogen, which also arises from animal proteins and milk in particular.
Supreme Master TV (m): What are the factors that lead to breast cancer? And how can a plant-based diet reduce those risks?
Dr Campbell (m): Breast cancer is like other cancers and other diseases, is very complex from a biological perspective, and unfortunately, over the years, we’ve studied that it has various factors that might be related in isolation.
So we’ve learned some things, but it’s quite controversial and debatable, if people focus on these individual studies and individual entities.
When, however, you put all this together in a holistic kind of interpretation, and look at things collectively, it becomes quite clear to me that breast cancer is a disease of the West.
It has been noted by many people, breast cancer starts to emerge as we start consuming more animal-based foods, especially dairy.
Dairy food has certain characteristics with it that when, especially young people, in this case, young girls, are consuming dairy, for example, to hopefully to get stronger bones and teeth and to grow faster, as the ads have indicated, they actually then reach the age of menarche or their reproductive lives earlier.
Boys, I’m sure, do the same thing, but we have better data for girls. So they reach the age of menarche earlier, their circulating estrogen levels are higher; they remain high as long as they consume that kind of diet; they stop their reproductive life later, they have a longer period, more estrogen exposure, all in large measure related to the kind of diet they’re consuming.
So I would argue that as far as food is concerned, animal food is a problem, especially dairy food.
I think we should just simply not be feeding dairy food to our young people and older people either.
Plant food also has a protective effect.
We know that dietary fiber and certain phytochemicals and things like this in plant foods, we know that they also tend to repress the growth of cancer or cells that would behave like breast-cancer cells.
So, it means being a total vegan, essentially to really You know, get to the lowest possible risk for breast cancer.
HOST: Dr. Campbell explains that the main reason modern physicians and society at large are unaware of the profound benefits of a plant-based diet is the tendency to study aspects of health in isolation.
Science itself and medicine is focused on reducing things down to its details, and then attempting to take these details of individual chemicals or individual nutrients or individual diseases or individual something, I mean they really focus, focus, focus.
And that to me is not really what medicine should be, that’s not health.
Health and particularly nutrition is a condition that is very holistic, has comprehensive effects.
I am a biochemist by training, and if you could sort of crawl inside of a cell, which I feel like I can do from time to time, you start looking at all these reactions and it’s like a symphony, it’s like a beautiful symphony.
There are countless things that are coming together to actually create a kind of dynamic, a highly integrated dynamic, that leads to health if we give it the right resources.
If we give it the wrong resources, we don’t get there.
It’s really quite a beautiful story.
HOST: When Healthy Living returns we will learn about how when the body is given good, plant-based nutrition it not only begins to recover, but good nutrition can prevent our genes from expressing negative genetic tendencies such as disease.
Be sure to stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.
HOST: Welcome back to Healthy Living on Supreme Master Television featuring renowned author of The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
Through extensive research, he has found that when the body is given the proper nutrients from a plant-based diet, it begins to naturally heal itself.
He emphasizes the holistic approach in maintaining overall well-being.
Dr Campbell(m): We’ve got countless chemicals coming in from the food and being synthesized and so forth that are playing a role in that system.
I mean it’s beyond our comprehension, there’s so many reactions, so many enzymes, so many this and so many…
And what it turns out to be is that there’s a synergy within that system, the body is able to control
Dr Campbell(m): that massively complex system. The body in its infinite wisdom can control that system if we give it the right resources. (Right, right)
And so, that’s almost the antithesis of science as we practice it, the antithesis of medicine. (Right) Because they’re always talking about, one drug, one, one… so forth and so on, but it’s the symphony, it’s the harmony that exists in cells that really started to impress me.
And when you think of it that way, then you go outside of the cell, you, you know, look at the whole organ for example, (Right) or you look at a whole group of organs, you look at the whole body.
And what you find is that with our hormonal system especially, which sends messages around and the neural system which sends messages around, what you find is that the whole body is marvellously symphonic, it’s harmony. (Right, right)
And that’s really what it’s all about.
And our body can actually manage health and create health and even restore health in people who have disease.
It can do this, (Right, right) all we need to do is, I think, stop focusing so much on the details, think about the whole and then make sure that we consume the right kinds of food.
And the body creates health on its own. (Right, right) There’s certain observations that I find really quite fascinating biologically.
For one thing, advanced disease like heart disease, cancer and so forth, it takes a long time to develop but it’s reversible. (Right, right)
Dr Campbell(m): Because then the question comes up, you know, maybe it’s reversible already after it’s been diagnosed and I believe it’s true.
That’s one thing, the second observation I would suggest is that the plant-based diet, which prevents it from going forward in the early stages, is the same kind of diet that prevents it becoming more serious at the late stages, (Supreme Master TV(f): Oh.) so all of a sudden this plant-based diet idea has more to do than just trying to prevent cancer or prevent heart disease; now we know it can be used to restore health, it can be used to treat, treat people with disease.
That’s very exciting, so it’s a very different view than what we now have in medicine, (Supreme Master TV(f): Right, right) you know, so that’s one thing.
HOST: Another conclusion Dr. Campbell has reached is that by eating a healthy, nutrient-dense, plant-based diet we can actually overcome or avoid our genetic tendencies.
This concept is supported by the joint work of medical clinician Dean Ornish, MD and visionary scientist and genome expert J. Craig Venter, PhD who found that gene expression can be altered through lifestyle changes, including a diet very high in plant-based foods.
Dr Campbell(m): Another observation that we worked on for a long time was that disease does not occur just because of the genes we have.
Supreme Master TV (f): The reaction I usually get from people, like, “Oh, you know, my mum has breast cancer, I’m probably going to get it” or things like that.
Dr Campbell(m): Genes do play some role; here’s the way it is: All these biological reactions, whether they’re normal physiological or whether they’re pathological, all these reactions begin by, chemically speaking, they begin with genes.
Supreme Master TV (f): Right.
Dr Campbell(m): And we have about 25,000 genes in all kinds of combinations; it’s an enormously complex system (Supreme Master TV(f): Right, right.) and these genes all work together.
So everything starts with genes, and in a biochemical sense, these genes, DNA in this case if you will, they produce what we call RNA, the RNA then produces protein and the protein becomes the enzymes. (Supreme Master TV(f): Right.)
So, and then the enzymes is what’s creating and controlling, the events that subsequently turn into either health or disease.
So we start with genes, everything starts with genes. And also we have some genes, all of us have some genes that aren’t so good, (Supreme Master TV(f): Right.) and will take us down the wrong path.
Dr Campbell(m): The question is does our disease occur because of the genetic background?
Very little or none, because even if we have some troublesome genes either from our background or from genes that have been corrupted during our lifetimes, if we have these kind of genes, they can give rise to some disease.
We can control the expression of these genes.
That means we can control whether or not they do produce RNA, whether they do produce protein and whether they do produce enzymes.
Supreme Master TV (f): Wow, OK, I see.
Dr Campbell(m): So even though everything starts with genes, and that’s a popular understanding, that’s not what determines disease. What determines disease is the control of that genetic expression to give health or disease at the other end. (Supreme Master TV(f): Right, right)
That’s a very exciting concept because what that means is, if we rely on the idea that genetics causes disease, that’s a very fatalistic idea.
If we rely instead on the idea that we control the expression of these diseases through nutrition, that’s where nutrition comes into play.
If we can do it through nutrition, that’s a very hopeful sign.
Supreme Master TV (f): Right, right.
Dr Campbell(m): We can do it for ourselves, and now we know what kind of nutrition it is. (Supreme Master TV(f): Right, right) So I’ve got very excited about, you know, a very different worldview.
HOST: Ensuring that people have adequate access to health care is an important foundation for the prosperity and well being of a country, company, institution, town or family.
In the United States, where people receive health insurance through their employer, this benefit has become extremely expensive for corporations to continue to offer and many now are no longer providing coverage to their employees.
Dr. Campbell believes the widespread adoption of a vegan diet to be the most effective way to lower health care costs.
Dr Campbell(m): Even though it’s been now three-and-a-half years since our book came out; all of a sudden now things might begin to change, in this way: The cost of health care in this country is serious. (Supreme Master TV(f): Right) (Supreme Master TV(f): Yes)
And so what does that do?
That’s causing jobs to be lost, because, you know, the companies can’t afford the healthcare.
Supreme Master TV(f): Hmmm.
Dr Campbell(m): It’s having an impact on school budgets. Then they got to cut programs.
Supreme Master TV(f): Right.
Dr Campbell(m): And so, a lot of people now are beginning to notice.
I’m having some very interesting discussions with some very significant people in this country right now.
All of them only talk about who’s going to pay the bill.
Is it going to be the insurance company? Is it going to be the individual?
Supreme Master TV(f): Hmmm.
Dr Campbell(m): Really, none of them are talking about how to make people well.
They talk about prevention a little bit.
They use the word prevention, but that word “prevention” to me is very superficial.
They often say, “Stop smoking.” Well, of course, you stop smoking.
Supreme Master TV(f): (Exercise). “Put your seat belts on,” exercise. “Eat a good diet,” that’s what they say, “Eat a good diet.” No one knows
HOST: Dr. Campbell has launched the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, to provide information to medical professionals and individuals seeking a better understanding of the role the plant-based diet plays in maintaining the highest level of health.
Through Cornell University, the Foundation offers accredited online courses that expand on his book, “The China Study”.
The coursework provides a basic understanding of nutrition and explains how certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity are the direct result of the consumption of animal-based and processed foods.
The course also provides practical advice on implementing a healthful plant-based diet.
Another exciting feature of the Foundation is its online social network where many people who have successfully overcome deadly diseases through plant-based diets share their inspiring stories and experiences and provide support to an ever-growing community seeking to do the same.
Dr Campbell(m): There’s nothing in medicine that comes close to this, in my estimation.
I’ve already had three physicians come up and tell me that, you know, they’re getting their patients to do this.
One of them, he’s bought like 90 books and he gives them out to all his patients and he asked them to fill out little forms, what they think of it.
And the reaction was really impressive.
And so, I’m really confident that this needs to be the future of medicine.
It needs to be broadcast and told to the public.
Supreme Master TV(f): Right, right.
Dr Campbell(m): And, someday, it can save health care costs.
HOST: In a few moments, we will hear more from Dr. Campbell on how a vegan diet can have a beneficial effect on mitigating the global warming crisis that is occurring on our planet.
You are watching Healthy Living on Supreme Master Television.
HOST: Welcome back to Healthy Living for our program featuring the esteemed Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University in the United States and the co-author of the acclaimed book “The China Study.”
In addition to recommending a vegan diet for optimal health, Dr. Campbell recognizes that it is a critical component in reducing global warming.
The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization has stated in a report meat production for human consumption emits more greenhouse gases than all transportation sectors combined.
Dr Campbell(m): The big environmental problems are related to the way we eat. It’s hugely related to the way we eat.
Supreme Master TV(f): Right. What have you learned about how the animal-based diet affects the environment, for example?
Dr Campbell(m): Oh, um, In this case, I’m going to refer to the work of others.
Recently there has been a suggestion made, I think two or three years ago, by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations that maybe about 20 percent or so, of all the greenhouse gases that are produced actually begin with livestock production.
And that kind of startled some people, 20 percent.
Actually it turns out to be much more significant than that now, according to recent information I have.
Supreme Master TV(f): Oh, There’s updated data.
Dr Campbell(m): And the reason this is really significant is because the greenhouse gases that are produced by livestock primarily are methane and carbon compounds.
HOST: Dr. Campbell points out that although most efforts to reduce emissions have been focused on carbon dioxide, reducing methane would be more efficient in cooling the planet.
Methane has 72 times higher global warming potential than CO2 over a 20 year time period.
Thus, minimizing methane emissions would have a faster effect in curbing the effects of global warming.
Dr Campbell(m): We are resting all of our arguments about greenhouse gases on CO2 production and the control of CO2 production.
Governments around the world are saying, “Let’s cut back on CO2 production.”
The problem with that is that even if we were to cut back CO2 production by let’s say 20 percent, which is huge, and it’s probably not possible in the next ten years, even if we were to do that we’re not going to see much effect on the greenhouse gas emissions.
Because the CO2 that’s already up there, it takes about 75 years, according to the numbers I’ve heard, for half of it to disappear.
So it would take a long time; even if we were able to do the best we could do right now, we’ve got a problem.
That’s the argument with CO2.
Methane is different.
Methane, instead of taking 75 years for half of it to disappear, it only takes about eight or nine years.
So, number one,
(Supreme Master TV(f): That’s a drastic difference).
Dr Campbell(m): Number two, methane has about 23 or 24 times the capacity on a molecular basis of absorbing energy (over a 100 time span).
Let’s say for every 25-unit change in CO2 (Supreme Master TV(f): Hmm), we only need one unit change in methane to create the same effect.
So controlling methane production is far more important. (Supreme Master TV(f): Definitely.)
And I just had some information from my friends at the World Bank just recently, that the new figures now indicate that at least half of the greenhouse gases that are up there now, not that 15 or 20 percent, at least half, and maybe considerably more, are due to livestock production.
Supreme Master TV(f): That is significant!
Dr Campbell(m): Extraordinary because then if you could cut back on livestock production you don’t get the methane, and therefore, you begin to clean up the greenhouse gas problem far, far sooner than you would with the CO2.
So it’s another whole dimension for the environmental question.
There are other questions too.
Soil erosion is a big problem with livestock production.
Water contamination again, is a big problem.
Water consumption (Waste, right) is a big problem, big problem.
Livestock requires so much water to grow.
Dr Campbell(m): So there’s many very serious environmental issues that can be controlled to a great extent by simply not eating livestock.
HOST: Dr. Campbell explained his view on why humans began to eat meat in the first place.
Dr Campbell(m): It seems to me, we humans having a sense of superiority (Hmm, yes), you know, over animals.
Our superiority over environmental issues, superiority over nature.
Somehow we’re the lead actors.
And we can do what we want.
And so it comes down to the question concerning morality, and knowing our place in the world, and we ought not to be where we are. (Supreme Master TV(f): Right)
It’s time now to start recognizing that there’s more on this planet than human beings.
Supreme Master TV (f): We cannot abuse our power.
Dr Campbell(m): We cannot abuse our power.
You are absolutely right.
And so I think this is huge, it’s really huge, and it has so many implications, to help solve problems.
HOST: We extend our great appreciation to Dr. T. Colin Campbell for taking his valuable time to speak with us about the plant-based diet and why it is the best choice for humankind to make.
The China Study
The China Study gives critical, life-saving nutritional information for every health-seeker in America. But, it is much more; Dr. Campbell’s exposé of the research and medical establishment makes this book a fascinating read and one that could change the future for all of us. Every health care provider and researcher in the world must read it thechinastudy.com