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China Study: Vegetarian Diet and Health

r. T Colin Campbell Links Meat and Dairy wih Chronic Disease

China Study

The China Study, by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, was published in 2005. It has raised health consciousness all over the world, and is frequently reviewed, quoted and referenced by other authors.

The China Study continues to be a 'must read' about vegetarian diet and health. Googling 'China Study' brings up 45,000,000 entries!

The China Study was based on a research project which took place over a 20 year period on millions of Chinese. The project was conducted by Cornell & Oxford Universities, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.

The research revealed thousands of associations between diet and disease. People who ate the most animal foods were the most likely to develop chronic diseases. The inverse was also true - those who ate the most plant foods were the least likely to develop chronic disease.

The more animal protein people ate, the higher the risk of getting breast, prostate, and bowel cancers, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, auto-immune disease, obesity, degenerative brain disease, and macular degeneration. Yes, all of those diseases were found to be related to diet!

It's simple and obvious: If you eat animal products, you increase your risk for many diseases, but if you eat a plant-based diet, you lower your risk for the same diseases.

It also works for those of us who want to reform our eating habits: Start making changes now and you will start to lower your risks. Even if someone already has one of those diseases, they might even be able to reverse the effects by changing their diet.

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The China Study also found that people with the highest blood cholesterol levels had the highest risk for disease, and those with the lowest blood cholesterol levels had the lowest risks. Makes sense, right?

The next discovery was that blood cholesterol levels correlated directly to diet. Their studies found that animal protein increased blood cholesterol levels and plant protein helped to reduce the amount of cholesterol the body produced. Although they found saturated fat increased cholesterol levels, it didn't do so nearly as much as animal protein.

Keep in mind that the overall cholesterol levels in China are much lower than in Western countries. If you compared people with high blood cholesterol levels for a Chinese person, that might still be lower than the low levels for Western countries. So, even having a slightly higher cholesterol level can affect your risk for disease.

How Does All This Apply To Our Western Lifestyle?

Even though the people studied eat far less animal protein than Westerners, there was still a direct correlation to disease.

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The rural Chinese eat about 10% of their calories from protein, but only about 10% of it is animal protein. That means about 1% of the calories in a typical Chinese diet come from animal protein.

The average Westerner eats about 15% of calories from protein, and 80% of the protein is from animals. That means about 12% of the calories in the typical Western diet are from animal protein.

Westerners are eating far more animal protein than the Chinese in the study, which should mean we are at a far greater risk for developing those killer diseases.

There are several factors that make the project's results very interesting.

1. The people who were studied had lived in their local area for their entire lives and ate food that was produced locally. This allowed several variables to be isolated, so it was easier to draw conclusions by studying groups that ate mostly plant protein separate from those with greater access to animal protein.

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2. The principal researchers did not have backgrounds in vegetarianism, or anything to gain by promoting it. Most were raised on the typical Western diet, full of meat and dairy. In fact, prior to the China Study, Dr. Campbell had spent much of his career searching for proof that animal protein was the most critical element of nutrition.

3. Dr. Campbell's was studying malnutrition in the Phillipines, under the premise that the sickest kids ate the least protein. What he actually found was that children eating the most protein had the highest risks for cancer. In addition, most of their protein came from milk.

4. His studies on milk protein, casein, developed from that original discovery in the Phillipines. He found that rats who ate casein grew cancerous tumors, but when they were given only plant-based diets, their cancers got smaller. If he again fed them casein, their tumors grew larger.

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5. Additionally, he found that dairy products are linked to Type 1 diabetes, breast cancer, colorectal cancers, and prostate cancer. Those discoveries led him to get funding for the China Project, where he made the most amazing discoveries of his career.

In the China Study, the authors determined that the fewer animal products one consumes, the greater the health benefits. They also say that the "optimum percentage of animal-based products is zero, at least for anyone with a predisposition for a degenerative disease."

Cathleen Woods, Vegan Nutritionista

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