The amount of evidence provided in The China Study means that it cannot be easily summarised. For our benefit, phthisiatrician and for those of you who would like a summary, I’ve tried to compile the information a little bit. I’m going to be posting something similar to this on the fridge to remind us of why we’re doing this.
For a quick recap: the theme that pops out of the plethora of research is that we should be consuming a “whole foods, plant-based diet”.
– There is a large geographical correlation between “western diseases”. While people in industrialised, first world nations tend to die from one class of diseases in general (aka Diseases of Affluence), people in developing nations die from a completely different class of diseases (aka Diseases of Poverty). This effect is well documented and has been known for a long time.
– These diseases tend to cluster in the same people – i.e. if you have one of them you will likely contract another
– Diseases of affluence include CHD (coronary heart disease), cancers (breast, colon, prostate, lung, throat, et al), diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases.
– People that migrate to different geographic regions assume the risk profile of the new geographic region that they are in. This implicates environmental factors like diet.
– Animal studies have demonstrated that increased milk protein ingestion (casein) dramatically increases cancer risk in multiple different species, with multiple different cancers. Wheat gluten (wheat protein) and soy protein did not have this effect.
– Animal studies showed that you can turn cancer “on” and “off” simply by adjusting the level of animal protein intake. Carcinogens sped up death in the high risk group, but did not cause the low risk group to contract cancer. (i.e. carcinogens do nothing unless activated by, in this case, milk protein). This means you can (maybe) arrest and reverse some types of cancer by changing your diet to a whole foods, plant-based diet.
– Low animal protein diet animals were healthier in general and voluntarily exercised more frequently.
– In the 1970s, the Chinese premier was dying from cancer and surveyed 96% of the country’s population to get risk factors for a host of diseases (The Cancer Atlas). The results show geographic clustering, and high cancer risk (among others) was associated with high animal fat/protein intake regions (i.e. affluent regions)
– Genes (predisposition) and environmental factors (i.e. carcinogens) lay dormant, and expression is activated by animal protein intake. While you never want to overexpose, a whole foods plant-based diet provides a huge buffer against this.
– The Nurse’s Study (the major study at Harvard in the US) demonstrated no effect of animal fat intake on breast cancer rates – they had the same risk profile as other high animal protein diets even when they tinkered with their fat intake…
Increased animal protein intake is associated with:
– higher blood cholesterol levels and increased plaque in the arteries (CHD)
– surpressed activated vitamin D levels (cancers of various sorts)
– increased antibody levels – of the host protein-destroying variety (auto-immune diseases, including Type I diabetes)
– decreased calcium uptake and increased calcium excretion in the urine (osteoporosis and kidney stones)
– a decrease in the age of menarche (first menstruation) from 17 to 11 years old (rural 70s China vs. modern US). An increase in the age of menopause by ~4 years. 100% elevation in estrogen levels during lifetime. (Breast Cancer, teenage pregnancy, harsher menopause from more drastic estrogen level changes)
– lower basal metabolic rate and thermalgenesis (obesity)
– Increased IGF-1 levels (4-10X increase in prostate cancer risk)
– Type I diabetes (juvenile onset). (related to increased cow’s milk intake and autoimmune antibody production)
– Type II diabetes
– decreased antioxidant and carotenoid levels (macular degeneration, cancer, etc. , etc.)
– Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairement
Diet Interventions with a “Whole-foods, plant-based diet” – successful interventions include: (that I can remember or find, and all were done by independent groups at various times in the last 50 years)
– (CHD) group of 18 patients with 49 CHD events between them were fed a whole foods, plant-based diet. They had only 1 event between them in the next 17 years, and that was from the guy that fell off the wagon. As soon as he resumed the diet his angina stopped again. The 5 people from the intial 23 person study that dropped out had 10 more events between them over the next 10 years.
– (CHD) 28 patients – 91% reduction in frequency of chest pain, up to 8% decrease in arterial blockages over the course of 1 year. The closer they followed the diet, the better the results
– (Obesity) 2-3 lbs/week depending on initial weight and BMI, etc. Obviously the worse off you are the more comes off. Weight loss is sustainable if you keep the lifestyle change
– (Diabetes) Of 25 Type II diabetics, 24 were able to *discontinue* medication after 3 weeks. For type I, they were able to lower insulin medication by 4o%
– (Blood cholesterol) Many studies show that in 2-3 weeks you can decrease blood cholesterol by >30%
– (MS – Multiple Sclerosis) Significant reduction in the rate of disease progression (20% death rate over 34 years, vs. >60% for control group)
This is only a sampling of the evidence provided in the book, and he provides references for all these claims. I will have to follow up on some of them, but once again, the breadth of correlation is a little overwhelming.
We’ve thrown out the milk, ice cream and yogurt. Next is the pesto and other cheeses (we haven’t used them since starting to read this book, but it’s a psychological journey).
Edit: You can find all the posts in this series HERE