“The vast majority of people and the public are really quite confused about this topic of nutrition. Which is pretty sad, because now we know that nutrition ought to be the premier biomedical science of the future.” America is suffering from diet-related illnesses. According to the American Cancer Society, men have a 47% risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. For women it’s a 38% lifetime risk. Colorectal, prostate and breast cancer among the most common. Dr. T Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist who conducted groundbreaking research in the 1980s, may have the secret to preventing and even reversing some of these major health threats. “I had certain ideas that everyone else had: that the good old American diet is as good as it gets. Well, we got into the science, I started doing things – fantastic things, very exciting opportunities over the years. I learned that what I thought was true in the beginning is not true.” Focusing on plant-based diets, he documented his research in the best-selling 2005 book, The China Study. Co-written with his son and medical doctor, Thomas M. Campbell, The China Study reveals the dangers of consuming animal products and the benefits of plant-based nutrition. Dr Campbell’s team conducted lab research that connected nutrition to cancer. Their findings led them to the China Study – a study that spanned 10 years in rural China. “Most of our nutrition information incidentally in textbooks and so forth is based on using Western subjects, by Western investigators. We haven’t taken really into consideration uh, other societies where their dietary practices are rather different. Of course, you get different diseases. So, China was a perfect place to uh look at this, in a sense, look at this contrast. Dr. Campbell reported that: “When we were done, we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.” Disease rates among Chinese counties are substantially different and this suggests that dietary and environment is likely to be more important than genetic risk. Researchers had to look at what each county’s population was consuming to discover why certain Chinese populations had lower disease risk than others. “And every disease that was common in one place was rare somewhere else. You could find one county where more than 10% of men would die from liver cancer, then you could go a few hundred miles away and you’d find that less than 1% of the men would die from liver cancer. You could do the same with cancer of the throat. You could do the same with having strokes, death from stroke. Every disease that is common in one place is rare somewhere else, and that means that all of the diseases that are common in China, at least the diseases in middle age that are common in China, are largely avoidable by some humanly practical way of living.” Why is cancer lower in China than the US? It’s largely due to the prevalence of plant-based foods in Chinese diets, Dr. Campbell concluded. In America, protein makes up about 15% of diets, with 80% coming from animal sources. Chinese statistics showed that only 10% of total calories came from protein, and only 10% of that protein was animal-based. The study revealed a strong connection between diets high in animal protein and cancer. Low protein diets below 5% decrease enzyme activity and prevent dangerous carcinogens from binding to DNA. Even when that number is increased to 20% protein, the dangers of developing cancer only increased when animal protein was consumed over plant protein. Campbell writes: The researchers also looked at casein, a protein that makes up 87% of cow milk protein. It was found that high doses of casein could turn on cancer genes, but low or no levels turned them off. “Cow’s milk protein, casein, is a chemical carcinogen that is more relevant than any other carcinogen identified so far.” According to Campbell, dairy has consistently shown an increase in prostate cancer probability saying that: “Among these individual observations there’s a whole series of them that we’ve now considered. And that is to say, that the higher the fat intake, the higher the breast cancer risk. Uh, the lower the fiber intake, the higher the cancer risk for colon cancer and rectal cancer. Nutrient quality is also observed in the China Study. Discussing cattle-rearing practices, Campbell notes that America’s increased disease rates preceded widespread hormone and antibiotic use. Organic beef, in his opinion, has the same overall nutrient profile as regular beef – the same molecular structure that makes it detrimental to our health. “The really important thing in my view is animal protein.” I mean that’s a story that’s been ignored for more than 100 years. Way back when, when they were first studying the question concerning factors of diet that cause atherosclerosis for example, they were at that time discussing – ‘Is it the fatty or lipid part of the diet? Or maybe was it protein? They made a conclusion in the 1920s, serious researchers did, it was more about animal protein than it was cholesterol or fat.” But it isn’t just about what animal foods contain, it’s also about what they lack. Plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and protein. Plant-based foods ward off more than cancer too – they can prevent heart disease, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, bone degeneration and brain disease. Since plants are rich in antioxidants, these nutrients bind to free radicals that cause diseases like cancer, and eliminate them from the body. Fiber is another important cornerstone to the benefits of plant foods. Dietary fiber is exclusively found in plants, and critical for proper digestion. Increased fiber intake improves digestive health, and may decrease the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Fiber is sometimes demonized for making essential nutrients escape the body too quickly. However, this proved false in the China Study. Iron, a mineral that is often assumed to be lower in high fiber diets, was almost doubled in Chinese populations eating a plant-based diet. They consumed 34mg of iron per day from plant-based foods, whereas American intake was 18mg per day on an animal-based diet. “Now we have information that is really fantastic for the public to know. And they’re not really getting good opportunity to know that. And I’m talking about the whole food, plant-based diet.” What can the China Study teach us? Western cultures may have advanced medicine, but we have extremely high rates of disease, too. The China Study reveals lower cases of disease when following a plant-based diet, and that proper nutrition, not genetics, is the foundation to good health. Plants have a dense nutrient profile, and as Dr Campbell puts it: Dr. Campbell continues to share evidence-based information on plant-based nutrition with his millions around the world. That’s it for today. Remember to subscribe and hit the red bell. New videos every Tuesday and Friday.