Colin Campbell was a nutritional biochemist at Cornell University. In the 1960s, he was involved in nutritional programs in the Philippines to help families provide for their critically undernourished children. Peanuts were one of their preferred sources of protein. It is a legume – great for improving the soil, easy to grow and is nutritious and tasty.
At the same time, children younger than 10 were dying at alarming rates from liver cancer. Normally liver cancer is an adult disease. And the children dying from the disease were from the most affluent suburbs in Manilla. These are the families that could afford the best housing and the best food.
Whilst in the Philippines, he read a paper in an obscure medical journal. Rats were fed aflatoxin – one of the deadliest carcinogens known. One group of rats was given a diet of 20% protein – and they all died of liver cancer. The second group was given a diet of 5% protein – they all lived. 100% deaths compared to 0 deaths. They were all fed aflatoxin – but only those rats that had a high protein diet died. And, peanuts and corn in the Philippines were often contaminated by aflatoxin. And what did the wealthy eat – the wealthy ate western style diets – one rich in protein. That was Colin Campbell’s first clue.
A few years later, in the early 1970s, the premier of China, Chen EnLai, was dying of cancer. At the terminal stage of his illness, he instigated a survey of cancers, heart disease and infectious diseases throughout China. As a result, a comprehensive map of China’s health was developed. Some regions showed cancer rates over 100 times greater than the counties with the lowest rates.
To study these results, a team of scientists from Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Cornell and Oxford Universities conducted a study of 6,500 people in 65 different counties over a period of 20 years. They looked at over 360 different health, lifestyle and nutrition factors and found over 8,000 significant correlations. Some comparisons with Chinese and American diets are worthwhile examining – Chinese consume much more calories but they weigh much less. They eat more fibre with much less fat and protein. Animal sources for the Chinese diet is less than one tenth of the American diet. Despite that Chinese people consume twice as much iron.
The China Project is one of the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. His conclusion:
Other books include:
- Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition which documents some of the extensive research regarding nutrition and health.
- Low-Carb Fraud which documents the deceptions of Low-Carbohydrate, High-Fat diet advocates.