I have been putting this off partly because my entire family has been sick (no time to spare!) and partly because I think I am growing a little tired of this topic! Another reason I have been putting this post off is because I just really don't know where to start when trying to really review the "meat" of this book (no pun intended). There is so much to cover. The more I discover about the actual study done in China (3), the more I realize that the book, The China Study, is a total sham. Michael R. Eades, M.D. did a wonderful job of summing up The China Study in his blog. His blog really described my thoughts on the book. I am certainly not endorsing everything on his website, but I do agree with this particular post. Dr. Eades appropriately calls The China Study "a masterpiece of obfuscation". So I would definitely recommend taking a look at his blog for a really great overview of the actual research done in China and the book that Campbell wrote following his research.
So instead of trying to really dig in and cover everything, I will bring up several points that show discrepancies and had me questioning the validity of Campbell's conclusion that everyone should avoid all animal products.
1. Please review The China Study Part I: Is Drinking Milk Damaging Your Health?
2. On page 30 I was very disappointed to see that Campbell actually mentioned the "eight essential amino acids" when there are actually nine. What a little but important detail to get wrong!
3. On page 59, Campbell finally mentioned casein as the "culprit" for cancer. He had already been going on for 58 pages about how animal products are the death of us before he finally mentioned that casein is actually what showed some link to cancer. However, as mentioned in my first post, this is really bogus anyway.
4. In Appendix A, Campbell reported that when glucose and other starches were tested alone, they increased cancer foci. So I guess this was better tucked away in the Appendix where few people would look.
5. On page 74 there is a chart comparing the dietary intake of Americans compared to the Chinese. It shows that the Chinese have an animal protein intake that is 0.8% of their total calories and Americans have an intake that is 10-11% of their total calories. How interesting that if you check out Appendix B, there is a star next to the 0.8% in the Chinese column (there is not a star next to the "10-11%" in the American column). The star denotes that this number excludes protein from fish. So how can we possibly compare the American intake to the Chinese when the two percentages do not contain the same things? Furthermore, if Chinese actually do get some of their protein from animal sources and their chronic disease is so much lower than ours, why is that we should avoid all animal protein?
6. Many of the studies that he uses to support his idea that animal protein "causes" chronic diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer, and heart disease typically aren't testing animal protein at all. In fact they are testing a low-fat diet in most of the studies. As a result, they tended to include portions of meat that were closer to the serving size that is recommended. Again, Campbell was just trying to make results appear to support his claim.
7. In chapter 8, Campbell goes on and on about fiber protecting against colon cancer despite other researchers' skepticism. He points out some great data that supports his claim that fiber does, in fact, prevent colon cancer. However, don't forget to check out the back of the book (p 385 #69) where he notes that "most of these associations were not statistically significant". This type of deception happened A LOT in The China Study. You simply can't take his word for anything. You have to look at all of the notes and critically look at all of his claims. He quite often discussed data as if it were significant and accepted by the medical community even when it was often not even statistically significant.
8. On page 175, Campbell states, "It just goes to show that when individually-observed nutrient effects are combined, as in a dietary situation, the expected may become the unexpected." He was referring to combining a high-calcium diet with a high-wheat diet and its effects on bile acids. That really doesn't matter. The point is, he is demonstrating how complex the relationship is between diet and physiology. Yet, he is so bold to assume that his little study on casein, a nutrient in isolation, is a great break-through in science demonstrating that cow's milk causes cancer.
9. On page 314, Campbell states. "For others concerned about nutrition, every time they see a dietitian, every time they see their doctor, every time they see a nutritionist and every time they go to a community health center, they may be told that a diet high in fat, animal protein, meat and dairy is consistent with good health, and they needn't worry about eating too many sweets." I am deeply offended by his remarks. As a Registered Dietitian I would never give someone that type of advice and I highly doubt that many doctors would either. I can't speak for "nutritionists" because anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist" without any training. Campbell is, again, just trying to make a case that he is the highest authority in nutrition and that all other professionals are lacking in intelligence and ability to properly advise their patients. I encourage a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I certainly believe that meat is healthy in small portions and that fat is an important part of everyone's diet. Carbohydrates should contribute 45-65% of the caloric intake, so they should be the most abundant macronutrient; however, fat and protein are important macronutrients as well. By no means would I ever tell someone that they shouldn't worry about eating too many sweets. Campbell is making a mockery of my profession and Medical Doctors.
There were MANY more discrepancies and areas where Campbell took a different slant on the research in order to help him support his claim. Again, please check out the blog mentioned above for a really great overview. To see all of the data, check this out.