excerpted from the book
The China Study
The Most Comprehensive
Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications
for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health
by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., 2006,
I began coordinating technical assistance for a nationwide project
in the Philippines working with malnourished children. Part of
the project became an investigation of the unusually high prevalence
of liver cancer, usually an adult disease, in Filipino children.
... In this project, however, I uncovered
a dark secret. Children who ate the highest-protein diets were
the ones most likely to get liver cancer. They were the children
of the wealthiest families.
I then noticed a research report from
India that had some very provocative, relevant findings. Indian
researchers had studied two groups of rats. In one group, they
administered the cancer-causing afiatoxin, then fed a diet that
was composed of 20% protein, a level near what many of us consume
in the West. In the other group, they administered the same amount
of aflatoxin, but then fed a diet that was only composed of 5%
protein. Incredibly, every single animal that consumed the 20%
protein diet had evidence of liver cancer, and every single animal
that consumed a 5% protein diet avoided liver cancer. It was a
100 to 0 score, leaving no doubt that nutrition trumped chemical
carcinogens, even very potent carcinogens, in controlling cancer.
... What we found was shocking. Low-protein
diets inhibited the initiation of cancer by aflatoxin, regardless
of how much of this carcinogen was administered to these animals.
After cancer initiation was completed, low-protein diets also
dramatically blocked subsequent cancer growth. In other words,
the cancer-producing effects of this highly carcinogenic chemical
were rendered insignificant by a low-protein diet. In fact, dietary
protein proved to be so powerful in its effect that we could turn
on and turn off cancer growth simply by changing the level consumed.
... But that's not all. We found that
not all proteins had this effect. What protein consistently and
strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow's
milk protein, promoted all stages o e cancer process. What type
of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake?
The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy. As
this picture came into view, it began to challenge and then to
shatter some of my most cherished assumptions.
I went on direct the most comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle
and disease ever done with humans in the history of biomedical
research.... This project surveyed a vast range of diseases and
diet and lifestyle factors in rural China... More commonly known
as the China Study, this project eventually produced more than
8,000 statistically significant associations between various dietary
factors and disease!
What made this project especially remarkable
is that, among the many associations that are relevant to diet
and disease, so many pointed to the same finding: people who ate
the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even
relatively small intakes of animal-based foods were associated
with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods
were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.
... These findings show that heart disease,
diabetes and obesity can be reversed by a healthy diet. Other
research shows that various cancer autoimmune diseases, bone health,
kidney health, vision and brain disorders in old age are convincingly
influenced by diet. Most importantly, the diet that has time and
again been shown to reverse and/or prevent these diseases is [a]
whole foods, plant-based diet.
Contrary to what many believe, cancer is not a natural event.
Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent the majority
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost
a third of the adults twenty years of age and over in this country
are obese. One is considered obese if he or she is carrying more
than a third of a person above and beyond a healthy weight.
One out of thirteen Americans now has diabetes.
Diabetes among people in their thirties has increased 70% in less
than ten years and the percentage of obese people has nearly doubled
in the past thirty years.
One of the most well regarded voices representing the medical
community, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),
included a recent article by Barbara Starfield, M.D., stating
that physician error, medication error and adverse events from
drugs or surgery kill 225, 400 people per year. That makes our
health care system the third leading cause of death in the United
States, behind only cancer and heart disease.
Peanuts are rich in protein.
[In the Philippines] we wanted to know which foods contained the
most aflatoxin (AF). We learned that peanuts and corn were the
foods most contaminated. All twenty-nine jars of peanut butter
we had purchased in the local groceries, were contaminated, with
levels of AF as much as 300 times the amount judged to be acceptable
in U.S. food. Whole peanuts were much less contaminated; none
exceeded the AF amounts allowed in U.S. commodities. This disparity
between peanut butter and whole peanuts originated at the peanut
factory The best peanuts, which filled "cocktail" jars,
were hand selected from a moving conveyor belt, leaving the worst,
moldiest nuts to be delivered to the end of the belt to make peanut
The children [in the Philippines] who got liver cancer were from
the best-fed families. The families with the most money ate what
we thought were the healthiest diets, the diets most like our
own meaty American diets. They consumed more protein than anyone
else in the country (high quality animal protein, at that), and
yet they were the ones getting liver cancer.
... At that time, a research paper from
India surfaced in an obscure medical journal. It was an experiment
involving liver cancer and protein consumption in two groups of
laboratory rats. One group was given AF (aflatoxin) and then fed
diets containing 20% protein. The second group was given the same
level of AF and then fed diets containing only 5% protein.
Every single rat fed 20% protein got liver
cancer or its precursor lesions, but not a single animal fed a
5% protein diet got liver cancer or its precursor lesions. It
was not a trivial difference; it was 100% versus 0%. This was
very much consistent with my observations for the Philippine children.
Those who were most vulnerable to liver cancer were those who
consumed diets higher in protein.
Controlling cancer through nutrition was, and still is, a radical
idea. But if this weren't enough, one more issue would yield explosive
information: did it make any difference what type of protein was
used in these experiments? For all of these experiments, we were
using casein, which makes up 87% of cow's milk protein. So the
next logical question was whether plant protein, tested in the
same way, has the same effect on cancer promotion as casein. The
answer is an astonishing "NO." In these experiments,
plant protein did not promote cancer growth even at the higher
levels of intake.
Let there be no doubt, cow's milk protein is an exceptionally
potent cancer promoter in rats dosed with aflatoxin. The fact
that this promotion effect occurs at dietary protein levels (10-20%)
commonly used both in rodents and humans makes it especially tantalizing
- and provocative.
We initiated more studies using several different nutrients, including
fish protein, dietary fats and the antioxidants known as carotenoids
[and] measured the ability of these nutrients to affect liver
and pancreatic cancer. The results of these, and many other studies,
showed nutrition to be far more important in controlling cancer
promotion than the dose of the initiating carcinogen The idea
that nutrients primarily affect tumor development during promotion
was beginning to appear to be a general property of nutrition
and cancer relationships.
... Furthermore, a pattern was beginning
to emerge: nutrients from animal-based foods increased, tumor
development while nutrients from plant-based foods decreased tumor
In the early 1970s, the premier of China, Chou EnLai, was dying
of cancer. In the grips of this terminal disease, Premier Chou
initiated a nationwide survey to collect information about a disease
that was not well understood. It was to be a monumental survey
of death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer for more than
2,400 Chinese counties and 880 million (96%) of their citizens.
The survey was remarkable in many ways. It involved 650,000 workers,
the most ambitious biomedical research project ever undertaken.
The end result of the survey was a beautiful, color-coded atlas
showing where certain types of cancer were high and where they
were almost nonexistent.'
This atlas made it clear that in China
cancer was geographically localized. Some cancers were much more
common in some places than in others. Earlier studies had set
the stage for this idea, showing that cancer incidence also varies
widely between different countries. But these China data were
more remarkable because the geographic variations in cancer rates
were much greater. They also occurred in a country where 87% of
the population is the same ethnic group, the Han people.
Why was there such a massive variation
in cancer rates among different counties when genetic backgrounds
were similar from place to place? Might it be possible that cancer
is largely due to environmental and lifestyle factors, and not
genetics? A few prominent scientists had already reached that
conclusion. The authors of a major review on diet and cancer,
prepared for the U.S. Congress in 1981, estimated that genetics
only determines about 2-3% of the total cancer risk.
The data behind the China cancer atlas
were profound. The counties with the highest rates of some cancers
were more than 100 times greater than counties with the lowest
rates of these cancers. These are truly remarkable figures. By
way of comparison, we in the U.S. see, at most, two to three times
the cancer rates from one part of the country to another.
In fact, very small and relatively unimportant
differences in cancer rates make big news, big money and big politics.
There has been a longstanding story in my state of New York about
the increased rates of breast cancer in Long Island. Large amounts
of money (about $30 million') and years and years of work have
been spent examining the issue. What sorts of rates were causing
such a furor? Two counties in Long Island had rates of breast
cancer only 10-20% higher than the state average. This difference
was enough to make front-page news, scare people and move politicians
to action. Contrast this with the findings in China where some
parts of the country had cancer rates 100 times (10,000%) higher
Because China is relatively homogenous
genetically, it was clear that these differences had to be explained
by environmental causes. This raised a number of critical questions:
* Why was cancer so high in some rural
Chinese counties and not in others?
* Why were these differences so incredibly
* Why was overall cancer, in the aggregate,
less common in China than in the U.S.?
In America 15-16% of our total calories comes from protein and
upwards of 80% of this amount comes from animal-based foods. But
in rural China only 9-10% of total calories comes from protein
and only 10% of the protein comes from animal-based foods. This
means that there are major nutritional differences in the Chinese
and American diets.
There are massive dietary differences between the Chinese and
American [dietary] experiences: much higher overall calorie intake,
less fat, less protein, much less animal foods, more fiber and
much more iron are consumed in China.
We found that one of the strongest predictors of Western diseases
was blood cholesterol.
There are two main categories of cholesterol.
Dietary cholesterol is present in the food we eat. It is a component
of food, much like sugar, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals.
This cholesterol is found only in animal-based food.
... The second type of cholesterol, blood
cholesterol, is made in the liver. Blood cholesterol and dietary
cholesterol, although chemically identical, do not represent the
same thing. A similar situation occurs with fat. Dietary fat is
the stuff you eat: the grease on your French fries, for example.
Body fat, on the other hand, is the stuff made by your body and
is very different from the fat that you spread on your toast in
the morning (butter or margarine). Dietary fats and cholesterol
don't necessarily turn into body fat and blood cholesterol. The
way the body makes body fat and blood cholesterol is extremely
complex, involving hundreds of different chemical reactions and
dozens of nutrients. Because of this complexity, the health effects
of eating dietary fat and dietary cholesterol may be very different
from the health effects of having high blood cholesterol or having
too much body fat.
As blood cholesterol levels in rural China
rose in certain counties, the incidence of "Western"
diseases also increased. What made this so surprising was that
Chinese levels were far lower than we had expected. The average
level of blood cholesterol was only 127 mg/dL, which is almost
100 points less than the American average (215 mgldL). Some counties
had average levels as low as 94 mg/dL. For two groups of about
twenty-five women in the inner part of China, average blood cholesterol
was at the amazingly low level of 80 mgldL.
... In the U.S., our range is around 170-290
mgldL. Our low values are near the high values for rural China.
Indeed, in the U.S., there was a myth that there might be health
problems if cholesterol levels were below 150 mg/dL. If we followed
that line of thinking, about 85% of the rural Chinese would appear
to be in trouble. But the truth is quite different. Lower blood
cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates of heart disease
cancer and other Western diseases even at levels far below those
considered "safe" in the West.
At the outset of the China Study, no one
could or would have predicted that there would be a relationship
between cholesterol and any of the disease rates. What a surprise
we got! As blood cholesterol levels decreased from 170 mgldL to
90 mg/dL, cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female
lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain,
adult brain, stomach and esophagus (throat) decreased.
... There are several types of blood cholesterol,
including LDL and HDL cholesterol. LDL is the "bad"
kind and HDL. is the "good" kind. In the China Study
higher levels of the bad LDL cholesterol also were associated
with Western diseases.
These diseases, by Western standards,
were relatively rare in China and that blood cholesterol levels
were quite low by Western standards. Our findings made a convincing
case that many Chinese had an advantage at the lower cholesterol
levels, even below 170 mgldL. Now imagine a country where the
inhabitants had blood cholesterol levels far higher than the Chinese
average. You might expect that these relatively rare diseases,
such as heart disease and some cancers, would be prevalent, perhaps
even the leading killers!
At the time of our study, the death rate
from coronary heart disease was seventeen times higher among American
men than rural Chinese men. The American death rate from breast
cancer was five times higher than the rural Chinese rate.
Even more remarkable were the extraordinarily
low rates of coronary heart disease.
Animal-based foods were correlated with increasing blood cholesterol.
With almost no exceptions, nutrients from plant-based foods were
associated with decreasing levels of blood cholesterol.
... Consuming animal-based protein increases
blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol
also raise blood cholesterol, although these nutrients are not
as effective at doing this as animal protein. In contrast, plant-based
foods contain- no cholesterol, and, in various ways, help to decrease
the amount of cholesterol made in the body.
... Even small amounts of animal-based
food in rural China raised the risk for Western diseases.
... Animal protein consumption by men
was associated with increasing levels of "bad" blood
cholesterol" whereas plant protein consumption was associated
with decreasing levels of this same cholesterol.
Dietary fat is an indicator of how much animal-based food is in
the diet. It is almost a perfect match.
Higher dietary fat is associated with higher blood cholesterol
and both of these factors, along with higher female hormone levels,
are associated, in turn, with more breast cancer and earlier age
The much later age of menarche in rural
China is remarkable. Twenty-five women in each of the 130 villages
in the survey were asked when they had their first menstrual period.
The range of village averages was fifteen to nineteen years, with
an average of seventeen years. The U.S. average is roughly eleven
Many studies have shown that earlier menarche leads to higher
risk for breast cancer... Early age of menarche, both in Chinese
and in Western women, leads to higher levels of blood hormones
such as estrogen. These hormone levels remain high throughout
the reproductive years if consumption of a diet rich in animal-based
food is maintained. Under these conditions, age of menopause is
deferred by three to four years, thus extending the reproductive
life from beginning to end by about nine to ten years and greatly
increasing lifetime exposure to female hormones. Other studies
have shown that an increase in years of reproductive life is associated
with increased breast cancer risk.
... Higher fat consumption is associated
with higher blood levels of estrogen during the critical years
of thirty-five to forty-four years... and higher blood levels
of the female hormone prolactin during the later years of fifty-five
to sixty-four years. These hormones are highly correlated with
animal protein intake and milk and meat.
The strong association of a high-animal
protein, high-fat diet with reproductive hormones and early age
of menarche, both of which raise the risk of breast cancer, is
an important observation. It makes clear that we should not have
our children consume diets high in animal-based foods.
Fiber [is] able to pull water from the body into the intestines
to keep things moving along. These undigested fibers, like stick-um
paper, also gather up nasty chemicals that find their way into
our intestines and that might be carcinogenic. If we don't consume
enough fiber, we are susceptible to constipation-based diseases
-[ including] large bowel cancer, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids
and varicose veins.
Dietary fiber is exclusively found in plant-based foods. This
material, which gives rigidity to the cell walls of plants, comes
in thousands of different chemical variations. It is mostly made
of highly complex carbohydrate molecules. We digest very little
or no fiber. Nonetheless, fiber, having few or no calories itself,
helps dilute the caloric density of our diets, creates a sense
of fullness and helps to shut down appetite, among other things.
In doing so, it satisfies our hunger and minimizes the overconsumption
The [China Study] results showed that fiber intake was consistently
associated with lower rates of cancers of the rectum and colon.
High-fiber intakes were also associated with lower levels of blood
-cholesterol. Of course, high fiber consumption reflected high
plant-based food consumption. foods such as beans, leafy vegetables
and whole grains are all high in fiber.
The colors of fruits and vegetables are derived from a variety
of chemicals called antioxidants These chemicals are almost exclusively
found in plants. They are only present in animal-based foods to
the extent that animals eat them and store a small amount in their
... Antioxidants are usually colored.
... Antioxidants in plants work in our
bodies the same way they work in plants. It is a wonderful harmony.
The plants make the antioxidant shields, and at the same time
make them look incredibly appealing with beautiful, appetizing
colors. Then we animals, in turn, are attracted to the plants
and eat them and borrow their antioxidant shields for our own
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the healthiest foods you
consume and they are primarily made of carbohydrates.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there
are highly-processed, highly-refined carbohydrates that have been
stripped of their fiber, vitamins and minerals. Typical simple
carbohydrates are found in foods like white bread, processed snack
items including crackers and chips made with white flour, sweets
including pastries and candy bars and sugar-laden soft drinks.
These highly refined carbohydrates originate from grains or sugar-laden
plants, like sugar cane or the sugar beet.
The health benefits of a high-carbohydrate diet come from eating
the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Individuals can achieve their genetic potential for growth and
body size by consuming a plant-based diet. So why is it that people
in developing nations, who consume little or no animal-based foods,
are consistently smaller than Western people? This is because
plant-based diets in poor areas of the world usually have insufficient
variety, inadequate quantity and quality and are associated with
poor public health conditions where childhood diseases are prevalent.
Under these conditions, growth is stunted and people do not reach
their genetic potential for adult body size.
The finding: casein, and very likely all animal proteins, may
be the most relevant cancer-causing substances that we consume.
Adjusting the amount of dietary casein has the power to turn on
and turn off cancer growth, and to override the cancer-causing
producing of aflatoxin, a very potent carcinogen.
Animal-based foods are linked to higher breast cancer rates plant-based
foods are linked to lower rates. Fiber and antioxidants from plants
are linked to a lower risk of cancers of the digestive tract.
Heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, obesity or diabetes
- these diseases are relatively unknown in traditional cultures
that subsist mostly on whole plant foods.
In an a 1959 study of heart disease, American men died from heart
disease at a rate almost seventeen times higher than their Chinese
The cultures that have lower heart disease rates eat less saturated
fat and animal protein and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
In other words, they subsist mostly on plant foods.
Men in Japan, who were more likely to smoke, still had less coronary
heart disease than the Japanese Americans. The researchers pointed
to diet, writing that blood cholesterol increased "with dietary
intake of saturated fat, animal protein and dietary cholesterol.
On the flip side, blood cholesterol "was negatively associated
with, complex -carbohydrate intake. In simple terms, animal foods
were linked to higher blood cholesterol; plant foods were linked
to lower blood cholesterol.
Researchers have compared the intellectual capabilities of patients
before and after the operation and found that a stunning 79% of
patients "showed impairment in some aspect of cognitive function
seven days after the operation.
About 70-80% patients who undergo bypass surgery remain free of
this crippling chest pain for one year. But this benefit doesn't
last. Within three years of the operation, up to one-third of
patients will suffer from chest pain again. Within ten years half
of the bypass patients will have died, had a heart attack or had
their chest pain return. Long-term studies indicate that only
certain of heart disease patients live longer because of their
bypass operation. Furthermore, these studies demonstrate that
those patients who undergo bypass operation do not have fewer
heart attacks than those who do not have surgery.
... Angioplasty is a similar story. The
procedure is expensive and carries significant risks. After identifying
blockages in a coronary artery, a balloon is inserted into the
artery and inflated. It pushes the plaque back against the vessel,
thereby allowing more blood to flow. Roughly one out of sixteen
patients will experience an "abrupt vessel closure"
during which can lead to death, heart attack or an emergency bypass
operation. Assuming that doesn't happen, there is still a good
chance that the procedure will fail. Within four months after
the procedure, 40% of the arteries that were "squished"
open will close up again, effectively nullifying the procedure.
Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., the Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Esselstyn started to reexamine the
standard medical practice.... Dr. Esselstyn decided to test the
effects of a whole foods, plant-based diet on people with established
coronary disease. By using a minimal amount of cholesterol-lowering
medication and a very low-fat, plant-based diet, he has gotten
the most spectacular results ever recorded in the treatment of
In 1985, Dr. Esselstyn began his study
with the primary goal of reducing his patients' blood cholesterol
to below 150 mgldL. He asked each patient to record everything
he or she ate in a food diary. Every two weeks, for the next five
years, Dr. Esselstyn met with his patients to discuss the process,
administer blood tests and record blood pressure and weight. He
followed up this daytime meeting with an evening telephone call
to report the results of the blood tests and further discuss how
the diet was working. In addition, all of his patients met together
a few times a year to talk about the program, socialize and exchange
helpful information. In other words, Dr. Esselstyn was diligent,
involved, supportive and compassionately stern on a personal level
with his patients.
The diet they, including Dr. Esselstyn
and his wife Ann, followed was free of all added fat and almost
all animal products. Dr. Esselstyn and his colleagues report,
"[Participants] were to avoid oils, meat, fish, fowl and
dairy products, except for skim milk and nonfat yogurt. About
five years into the program, Dr. Esselstyn recommended to his
patients that they stop consuming any skim milk and yogurt, as
Five of his patients dropped out of the
study within the first two years; that left eighteen. These eighteen
patients, originally had come to Dr. Esseistyn with severe disease.
Within the eight years leading to the study, these eighteen people
had suffered through forty-nine coronary events, including angina,
bypass surgery, heart attacks, strokes and angioplasty. These
were not healthy hearts. One might imagine that they were motivated
to join the study by the panic created when premature death is
These eighteen patients achieved remarkable
success. At the start of the study, the patients' average cholesterol
level was 246 gIdL. During the course of the study, the average
cholesterol was 132 mg/dL, well below the 150 mg/dL target. Their
levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol dropped just as dramatically.
In the end, though, the most impressive result was not the blood
cholesterol levels, but how many coronary events occurred since
the start of the study.
In the following eleven years, there was
exactly one coronary event among the eighteen patients who followed
the diet. That one event was from a patient who strayed from the
diet for two years. After straying, the patient consequently experienced
clinical chest pain (angina) and then resumed a healthy plant-based
diet. The patient eliminated his angina, and has not experienced
any further events.
Not only has the disease in these patients
been stopped, it has even been reversed. Seventy percent of his
patients have seen an opening of their clogged arteries.
Vegetarians and vegans are slimmer than their meat-eating counterparts.
A strict vegetarian diet is not necessarily the same thing as
a whole foods, plant-based diet. Some people become vegetarian
only to replace meat with dairy foods, added oils and refined
carbohydrates, including pasta made with refined grains, sweets
Fat has nine calories per gram while carbohydrates and protein
have only four calories per gram. In addition, vegetables have
a lot of fiber, which makes us feel full, and yet contributes
almost no calories to your meal.
Vegetarians consume the same amount or even significantly more
calories than their meat-eating counterparts, and yet are still
In the eight years from 1990 to 1998, the incidence of diabetes
[in the US] increased 33%.
Type 1 diabetics cannot produce adequate insulin because the cells
of their pancreas have been destroyed. This is the result of the
body attacking itself, making Type diabetes an autoimmune disease.
Women who consume a diet rich in animal-based foods, with a reduced
amount of whole, plant-based foods, reach puberty earlier and
menopause later, thus extending their reproductive lives. They
also have higher levels of female hormones throughout their lifespan.
Increased levels of estrogen and related hormones are a result
of the consumption of typical Western diets, high in fat and animal
protein and low in dietary fiber... Breast cancer is centered
on estrogen exposure
North America, Europe Australia and wealthier Asian countries
(Japan, Singapore) have very high rates of colorectal cancer,
while Africa, Asia and most of Central and South America have
very low rates of this cancer.
One of the strongest links between any cancer and any dietary
factor was between colon cancer and meat intake... Countries where
more meat, more animal protein, more sugar and fewer cereal grains
were consumed had far higher rates colon cancer.
Colorectal cancers [may be] largely the result of low fiber intake.
[researcher Denis Burkitt]
Fiber is only in plant foods.
Fiber-containing diets prevent colorectal cancers.
The data clearly show that a whole foods, plant-based diet can
dramatically lower colorectal cancer rates.
Refined carbohydrates are the starches and sugars obtained from
plants by mechanically stripping off their outer layers, which
contain most of the plant's vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
Vitamin D is not a nutrient that we need to consume. Our body
can make all that we need simply by being in sunlight fifteen
to thirty minutes every couple of days.
Daily consumption of milk and other dairy products is linked with
Our institutions and information providers are failing us. Even
cancer organizations, at both the national and local level, are
reluctant to discuss or even believe the evidence. Food as a key
to health represents a powerful challenge to conventional medicine,
which is fundamentally built on drugs and surgery.
The most studied autoimmune diseases are multiple sclerosis (MS)
rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Type 1 diabetes and Rheumatic heart
disease. These are also the primary autoimmune diseases that have
been studied in reference to diet. Others include inflammatory
bowel disease, Crohn's disease, rheumatic heart disease and (possibly)
Common Autoimmune Diseases (from most common to least common)
1. Graves' disease (Hyperthyroidism)
2. Rheumatoid arthritis
3. Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism)
5. Pernicious anemia
7. Multiple sclerosis
8. Type 1 diabetes
9. Systemic lupus
10. Sogren's disease
11. Myasthenia gravis
13. Addison's disease
15. Primary biliary cirrhosis
17. Chronic active hepatitis erythematosus
The "recruitment center" for
the immune system is in the marrow of our bones. The marrow is
responsible for generating specialized cells called stem cells.
Some of these cells are released into circulation for use elsewhere
in the body; these are called B-cells (for bone). Other cells
formed in the bone marrow remain immature, or unspecialized until
they travel the thymus (an organ in the chest cavity just above
the heart) where they become specialized these are called T-cells
(for thymus). These "soldier cells along with other specialized
cells, team up to create intricate defense plans. They meet at
major intersections around the body, including the spleen (just
inside the left lower rib cage) and the lymph nodes. These meeting
points are like command and control centers, where the "soldier
cells" rearrange themselves into teams to attack foreign
These cells are remarkably adaptable when
they form their teams. They are able to respond to different circumstances
and different foreign substances, even those they have never before
seen. The immune response to these strangers is an incredibly
creative process. It is one of the true wonders of nature.
The foreign invaders are protein molecules
... To counter these antigens, our immune
system must customize its defense to each attack. It does so by
creating a "mirror image" protein for each attacker.
The mirror image is able to fit perfectly onto the antigen and
destroy it. Essentially, the immune system creates a mold for
each face it encounters. Every time it sees that face after the
initial encounter, it uses the custom-made mold to "capture"
the invader and destroy it. The mold may be a B-cell antibody
or a T-cell-based receptor protein.
Even though this system is a wonder of nature when it is defending
the body against foreign proteins, it is also capable of attacking
the same tissues that it is designed to protect . This self-destructive
process is common to all autoimmune diseases. It is as if the
body were to commit suicide.
It so happens that the antigens that trick our bodies into attacking
our own cells may be in food. During the process of digestion,
for example, some proteins slip into our bloodstream from he intestine
without being fully broken down into their amino acid parts. The
remnants of undigested proteins are treated as foreign invaders
by our immune system, which sets a out making molds to destroy
them and sets into motion the self-destructive autoimmune process.
One of the foods that supply many of the
foreign proteins that mimic our own body proteins is cow's milk.
In the case of Type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks the pancreas
cells responsible for producing insulin. This devastating, incurable
disease strikes children, creating a painful and difficult experience
for young families. What most people don't know, though, is that
there is strong evidence that this disease is linked to diet and,
more specifically to dairy products. The ability-of cow's milk
protein to initiate Type 1 diabetes is well documented.
... This process boils down to a truly
remarkable statement: cow's milk may cause one of the most devastating
diseases that can befall a child. For
... One of the more remarkable reports
on this cow's milk effect was published over a decade ago, in
1992, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers,
from Finland, obtained blood from Type 1 diabetic children aged
four to twelve years... Children who had antibodies to cow's milk
protein must have previously consumed cow's milk. It also means
that undigested protein fragments of the cow's milk proteins had
to have entered the infant's circulation in order to cause the
formation of antibodies in the first place.
... The researchers discovered something
truly remarkable. Of the diabetic children measured, every single
one had antibody levels higher than 3.55. Of the normal children
measured, every single one had antibody levels less than 3.55.
... This implies two things: children
with more antibodies consumed more cow's milk and second, increased
antibodies may cause Type 1 diabetes.
Infants or very young children of a certain genetic background
who are weaned from the breast onto cow's milk and who perhaps
become infected with a virus that may corrupt the gut immune system,
are likely to have a high risk for Type 1 diabetes. A study in
Chile considered the first two factors, cow's milk and genes.
Genetically susceptible children weaned too early onto cow's milk-based
formula had a risk of Type 1 diabetes that was 13.1 times greater
than children who did not have these genes and who were breast-fed
for at least three months (thus minimizing their exposure to cow's
milk). Another study in the U.S. showed that genetically susceptible
children fed cow's milk as infants had a risk of disease that
was 11.3 times greater than children who did not have these genes
and who were breast-fed for at least three months. This eleven
to thirteen times greater risk is incredibly large (1,000-1,200%);
anything over three to four times is usually considered very important
.To put this in perspective, smokers have approximately ten times-greater
risk of getting lung cancer and people with high blood pressure
and cholesterol have a 2.5-3.0 times greater risk of heart disease.
Cow's milk consumption by children zero to fourteen years of age
in twelve countries shows an almost perfect correlation with Type
1 diabetes. The greater the consumption of cows milk, the greater
the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes.
When people migrate from areas of the world where disease incidence
is low to areas of the world where disease incidence is high,
they quickly adopt the high incidence rates as they change their
diet and lifestyle. This shows that even though individuals may
have the necessary gene(s), the disease will occur only in response
to certain dietary and/or environmental circumstances.
When the results of all these studies are combined (both genetically
susceptible and not susceptible) we find that children weaned
too early and fed cows milk have, on average, a 50-60% higher
risk of Type 1 diabetes.
Human breast milk is the perfect food for an infant, and one of
the most damaging things a mother can do is to substitute the
milk of a cow for her own.
About 400,000 people in the U.S. alone have multiple sclerosis
according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is a
disease that is initially diagnosed between twenty and forty years
of age, and strikes women about three times more often than men.
Even though there is widespread medical
and scientific interest in this disease, most authorities claim
to know very little about causes or cures. Major multiple sclerosis
Internet Web sites all claim that the disease is an enigma. They
generally list genetics, viruses and environmental factors as
possibly playing roles in the development of this disease but
pay almost no heed to a possible role for diet.
The initial research showing an effect of diet on MS goes back
more than half a century to the research of Dr. Roy Swank, who
began his work in Norway and at the Montreal Neurological Institute
during the 1940s. Later, Dr. Swank headed the Division of Neurology
at the University of Oregon Medical School .
Dr. Swank became interested in the dietary
connection when he learned that MS appeared to be more common
in the northern climates There is a huge difference in MS prevalence
as one moves away from the equator: MS is over 100 times more
prevalent in the far north than at the equator, and seven times
more prevalent in south Australia than in north Australia. This
distribution is very similar to the distribution of other autoimmune
diseases including Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
... Dr. Swank conducted his best-known
trial on 144 MS patients recruited from the Montreal Neurological
Institute. He kept records on these patients for the next thirty-four
years. He advised his patients to consume a diet low in saturated
fat most of whom did, but many of whom did not. He then classified
them as good dieters or poor dieters, based on whether they consumed
less than 20 glday or more than 20 glday of saturated fat.
As the study continued, Dr. Swank found
that progression of disease was greatly reduced by the low-saturated
fat diet which worked even for people with initially advanced
... More recently, additional studies
have confirmed and extended Swank's observations and gradually
have begun to place more emphasis on cow's milk These new studies
show that consuming cow's milk is strongly linked to MS.
... The consumption of meat high in saturated
fat like milk, was also associated with MS in multi-country studies,
while the consumption of fish, containing omega-3 fat, was associated
with low rates of disease.
As with cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes, people acquire
the risk of the population to which they move, especially if they
move before their adolescent years.
... Although MS and Type 1 diabetes share
some of the same unanswered questions on the role of viruses and
genes and the immune system, they also share the same alarming
evidence regarding diet. For both diseases, a "Western"
diet is strongly associated with disease incidence.
We can hypothesize that MS, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis,
lupus and other autoimmune diseases may share a similar cause.
... All the autoimmune diseases that have
been studied have been found to be more common at the higher geographic
latitudes where there is less constant sunshine.
... Parkinson's disease, a non-autoimmune
disease with auto-immune characteristics is often found with MS.
... Of those diseases studied in relation
to nutrition, the consumption of animal-based food - especially
cow's milk - is associated with greater disease risk.
... There is evidence that a virus (or
viruses) may trigger the onset of several of these diseases
... Sunlight exposure, which decreases
with increasing latitude could be important - there are other
factors. The consumption of animal-based foods, especially cow's
milk, also increases with distance from the equator. In fact,
in one of the more extensive studies cow's milk was found to be
as good of a predictor of MS as latitude (i.e., sunshine). In
Dr. Swank's studies in Norway, MS was less common near the coastal
areas of the country where fish intake was more common. This gave
rise to the idea that the omega-3 fats common to fish might have
a protective effect. What is almost never mentioned,
however, is that dairy consumption (and saturated fat) was much
lower in the fish-eating areas it possible that cow's milk and
lack of sunshine are having a similar effect on MS and other autoimmune
diseases because they operate through a similar mechanism?
Knowing the strength of the evidence against animal foods, cow's
milk in particular, for both MS and Type 1 diabetes, and knowing
how much in common a o the autoimmune diseases have, it is reasonable
to begin thinking about food and its relationship to a much broader
group of autoimmune diseases. Obviously caution is called for;
more research is needed to make conclusive statements about cross-autoimmune
disease similarities. But the evidence we have now is already
Today almost no indication of the dietary
connection to these diseases has reached public awareness. The
Web site of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, for
example, reads, "There is no credible evidence that MS is
due to poor diet dietary deficiencies.
Americans consume more cow's milk and its products per person
than most populations in the world. So Americans should have wonderfully
strong bones right? Unfortunately A recent study showed that American
women aged fifty and older have one of highest rates of hip fractures
in the world. The only countries with higher rates are Europe
and in the south Pacific (Australia and New Zealand)' where they
consume even more milk than the United States. What's going on?
An excess rate of hip fractures is often
used as a reliable indicator of osteoporosis, a bone disease that
especially affects women after menopause. It is often claimed
to be due to an inadequate intake of calcium.
... Something is amiss, though, because
those countries that use the most cow's milk and its products
also have the highest fracture rates and the worst bone health.
One possible explanation is found in a report showing an impressively
strong association between animal protein intake and bone fracture
rate for women in different countries... It found that a very
impressive 70% of the fracture rate was attributable to the consumption
of animal protein.
... Researchers explained that animal
protein, unlike plant protein, increases the acid load in the
body... In order to neutralize the acid, the body uses calcium
which acts as a very effective base. This calcium, however, must
come from somewhere. It ends up being pulled from the bones and
the calcium loss weakens them putting them at greater risk for
We have had evidence for well over a hundred
years that animal protein decreases bone health. The explanation
of animal protein causing excess metabolic acid for example, was
first suggested in the 1880s and was documented as long ago as
... When animal protein increases metabolic
acid and draws calcium from the bones the amount of calcium in
the urine is increased. This effect has been established for over
eighty years and has been studied in some detail since the 1970s.
Summaries of these studies were published in 1974 and 1990. Each
of these summaries clearly shows that the amount of animal protein
consumed by many of us on a daily basis is capable of causing
substantial increases in urinary calcium.
... A study, published in 2000, comes
from the Department of Medicine at the University of California
at San Francisco... A high ratio of vegetable to animal protein
consumption was found to be impressively associated with a virtual
disappearance of bone fractures... the statistical significance
of the association of animal protein with bone fracture rates
is truly exceptional.
... The Study of Osteoporotic Fractures
Research Group at the University of California at San Francisco
published yet another study of over 1,000 women aged sixty-five
and up. Like the multi-country study, researchers characterized
women's diets by the proportions of animal and plant protein.
After seven years of observations the women with the highest ratio
of animal protein to plant protein had 3.7 times more bone fracture
than, the women with the lowest ratio. Also during this time the
women with the high ratio lost bone almost four times as fast
as the women with the lowest ratio.
In our rural China study, where the animal to plant ratio was
about 10%, the fracture rate is only one-fifth that of the U.S..
Nigeria shows an animal-to-plant protein ratio only about 10%
that of Germany and the hip fracture incidence is lower by over
These observations raise a serious question
about the widely advertised claim that protein-rich dairy foods
protect our bones.
... In one study of ten countries, a higher
consumption of calcium was associated with a higher-not lower-risk
of bone fracture.
... Mark Hegsted was a longtime Harvard
professor. He worked on the calcium issue beginning in the early
1950s, was a principal architect of the nation's first dietary
guidelines in 1980. Professor Hegsted believes that excessively
high intakes of calcium consumed over a long time impair the body's
ability to control how much calcium it uses and when. Under health
conditions, the body uses an activated form of vitamin D, calcitirol,
to adjust how much calcium it absorbs from food and how much it
excretes and distributes in the bone. Calcitriol is considered
... Given these findings, it seems perfectly
plausible that animal protein and even calcium - when consumed
at excessive levels - are capable of increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Dairy, unfortunately, is the only food that is rich in both of
these nutrients. Hegsted ... said in his 1986 paper, ... hip fractures
are more frequent in populations where dairy products are commonly
consumed and calcium intakes are relatively high.
BMD (bone mineral density) is a measure of bone density that is
often used to diagnose bone health. If your bone density falls
below a certain level,
... Something is wrong with the idea that
BMD reliably represents osteoporosis and, by inference, indicates
the kind of diet that would lower fracture rates. In-contrast,
an alternative but much better predictor of osteoporosis is the
dietary ratio of animal-to-plant protein. The higher the ratio,
the higher the risk of disease. And, BMD is not significantly
associated with this ratio.
... To minimize your risk of osteoporosis:
* Stay physically active.
* Eat a variety of whole pant foods, and
avoid animal foods, including dairy. Plenty of calcium is available
in a wide range of plant foods, including beans and leafy vegetables.
* Keep your salt intake to a minimum.
Avoid highly processed and packaged foods which contain excess
Professor W.G. Robertson from the Medical Research Council in
Leeds, England... Dr. Robertson's research group has investigated
the relationship between food and kidney stones.
... One of Robertson's charts depicts
a stunning relationship between animal protein consumption and
the formation of kidney stones. It shows that consuming animal
protein at levels above twenty- one grams per person-per day ...
is closely correlated with a high number of kidney stones.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible blindness
among people over age sixty-five.
Two studies, each involving a team of experienced researchers
at prestigious institutions, provide compelling evidence that
food can protect against macular degeneration... 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.
... 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
... Researchers found that a higher intake
of total carotenoids was associated with lower frequency of macular
degeneration... especially the carotenoids found in dark green
... Green leafy vegetables, carrots and
citrus fruits are all good sources... consume carotenoids in their
natural context in highly colored fruits and vegetables.
... Eating antioxidant-containing foods,
especially those containing the carotenoids, will prevent most
blindness cases resulting from macular degeneration.
Cataract formation involves the clouding of the eye lens. Corrective
surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with
an artificial lens. The development of the opaque condition, like
the degeneration of the macula and so many other disease conditions
in our body, is closely associated with the damage created by
an excess of reactive free radicals. Once again, it is reasonable
to assume that eating antioxidant-containing foods should be helpful.
Starting in 1988, researchers in Wisconsin
began to study eye health and dietary intakes in over 1,300 people.
Ten years later, they published a report on their findings...
those who consumed the most spinach had 40% less cataracts.
These two eye conditions, macular degeneration
and cataracts both occur when we fail to consume enough of the
highly colored green and leafy vegetables. In both cases, excess
free radicals, increased by animal-based foods and decreased by
plant-based foods are likely to be responsible for these conditions.
Memory loss disorientation and confusion are not inevitable parts
of aging, but problems linked to that all-important lifestyle
... There are two main types of dementia:
vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Vascular dementia is
caused by multiple little strokes resulting from broken blood
vessels in the brain.
... Alzheimer's, occurs when a protein
substance called beta-amyloid accumulates in critical areas of
the brain rather like the cholesterol-laden plague that builds
up in cardiovascular diseases.
... One risk factor is the amount of those
free radicals which wreak havoc on brain function in our later
years. Because free radical damage is so important to the process
of cognitive dysfunction and dementia, researchers believe that
consuming dietary antioxidants can shield our brains from this
damage. Animal-based foods lack antioxidants shields and tend
to activate free radical production
and cell damage, while plant-based foods, with their abundant
antioxidants, tend to prevent such damage.
... Rates of Alzheimer's are low in less
developed areas. A recent study compared Alzheimer's rate to dietary
variables across eleven different countries and found that populations
with a high fat intake and low cereal and grain intake had higher
rates had higher rates of the disease.
In a publication from the famous Framingham Study, researchers
... found that people who consumed the most total fat and saturated
fat had the highest risk of dementia due to vascular problems...
greater dietary fat and cholesterol intake tended to increase
the risk of Alzheimer's disease specifically and all dementia
There are four nutrients which animal-based foods have that plant-based
foods for the most part do not: cholesterol and vitamins A, D
It is estimated that we hold a three-year store of vitamin B12
in our bodies. If you do not eat any animal products for three
years or more, you should consider taking a small B12 supplement
The American Cancer Society and the National Dairy Council were
showing their true colors. Prevention of cancer with low-cost,
low-profit plant foods was not welcomed by the food and pharmaco-medical
industries With support from a trusting media, their combined
power to influence the public was overwhelming.
In the world of nutrition and health scientists are not free to
pursue their research wherever it leads. Coming to the "wrong"
conclusions even through first-rate science, can damage your career.
Trying to disseminate these "wrong" conclusions to the
public for the sake of public health can destroy your career.
The dark side of science the side that harms not just individual
researchers who get in the way, but all of society. It does this
by systematically attempting to conceal, defeat and destroy viewpoints
that oppose the status quo.
The behemoth did not take kindly to the
idea of a serious connection between diet and cancer or for that
matter, virtually any other disease. Big Medicine in America
is in the business of treating disease with drugs and surgery
after symptoms appear... The American Cancer Society gives almost
no credence to the idea that diet is linked to cancer.
Science is not always the honest search for truth that so many
believe it to be. It far too often involves money, power, ego
and protection of personal interests above the common good.
The government is saying that animal products, dairy, meat, refined
sugar and fat in your diet are good for you. The government is
turning a blind eye to the evidence as well as to the millions
of Americans who suffer from nutrition-related illnesses The
covenant of trust between the U.S. government and the American
citizen has been broken.
Industry develops consultancies with a few publicly visible figures
in academia, who then take policy positions outside of academia.
However, these industry consultants continue to wear their academic
... Academic scientists can receive personal
compensation from industry while simultaneously undertaking government-sponsored
activities of considerable public importance. Ironically, they
can even help set the agenda for the same government authorities
who have long been restricted from such corporate associations.
It is huge "conflict-of-interest" loophole allowing
exercise their influence through the side door of academia. In
effect the entire system is essentially under the control of industry.
The entire system of developing public nutrition information has
been invaded and co-opted by
industry sources that have the interest and resources to do so.
They run the show. They buy a few academic hacks who have gained
positions of power and who exercise considerable influence, both
within academia and government.
Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of
The pharmaceutical industry enjoys extraordinary
government protections and subsidies. Much of the early basic
research that may lead to drug development is funded by the National
Institutes of Health. It is usually only later, when the research
shows practical promise, that the drug companies become involved.
The industry also enjoys great tax advantages. Not only are its
research and development costs deductible, but so are its massive
marketing expenses. The average tax rate of major U.S. industries
from 1993 to 1996 was 27.3% of revenues. During the same period
the pharmaceutical industry was reportedly taxed at a rate of
only 16.2%. Most important, the drug companies enjoy seventeen-year
government-granted monopolies on their new drugs - that is, patent
protection. Once a drug is patented, no one else may sell it,
and the drug company is free to charge whatever the traffic will
When it comes to health, government is not for the people; it
is for the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry at the
expense of the people. It is a systemic problem where industry,
academia and government combine to determine the health of the
country. Industry provides funding for public health reports,
and academic leaders with industry ties play key roles in developing
them A revolving door exists between government jobs and industry
jobs, and government research funding goes to the development
of drugs and devices instead of healthy nutrition.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
Cardiologists are supposed to be expert
in diseases of the heart and yet they have no expertise in treating
heart disease, and when that awareness strikes them, they get
very defensive. They can treat symptoms, the they can take care
of arrythmias, they can get you interventions, but they don't
know how to treat the disease which is a nutritional treatment.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
It's absolutely daunting, the lack of
physician knowledge that there is about the fact that disease
can be reversed. You wonder, what is the literature that these
... What does the twentieth century of
medicine have to offer? We have pills and we have procedures.
Right? But who ever says, 'Maybe we ought to stop disease'?"
The medical status quo relies heavily on medication and surgery
at the exclusion of nutrition and lifestyle. Doctors have virtually
no training in nutrition and how it relates to health.
Nutrition is often not taught [to physicians] in relation to public
health problems, like obesity, cancer, diabetes, etc.
You should not assume that your doctor has any more knowledge
about food and its relation to health than your neighbors and
coworkers. It's a situation in which nutritionally untrained doctors
prescribe milk and sugar-based meal-replacement shakes for overweight
diabetics, high-meat, high-fat diets for patients who ask how
to lose weight and extra milk for patients who have osteoporosis.
The health damage that results from doctors' ignorance of nutrition
The only type of research that is funded and recognized is research
on drugs. Research on the causes of disease and non interventions
simply doesn't occur in medical education settings.
A recent study found that one in five new drugs will either get
a "black box warning", indicating a previously unknown
serious adverse reaction that may result in death or serious injury,
or will be withdrawn from the market within twenty-five years.
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.