First of all: I’ve got some bad news, folks.
I just learned from a highly reliable source that I am not a “private blogger,” but rather, “very likely a large scale underground defamation campaign against Dr.Campbell.” As a result, all mention of my critique—AKA the Minger Scam—has been yanked from Wikipedia’s “The China Study” page by a vegan editor there. The rationale is as follows:
Just tell me, which “private fun blogger” is able, aside of her alleged full time work and study of “English literature”, to write 36 pages of scientific responses to a professor?!! And again and again??? Either “she” is some sort of very mighty – and very mad and crazy and hate filled – genius, which in itself would be something extremely rare and highly unlikely (really, why would a pretty young girl have so much reason for such a giant ordeal, fight, all that massive work, all that hate???) … Or “she” is in reality another underground [campaign].
Whoops—my bad! I forgot females aren’t supposed to think or write stuff; we’re here to take Home Ec and vacuum in stilettos and learn how to become Good Wives:
On behalf of Minger Scam, Inc., I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused. 😉
Now onto business.
I’ve got graphs, graphs, graphs galore, but they aren’t really relevant to the upcoming wheat post, so I’m plopping them here instead. In my first China Study critique, I looked at some mortality differences between the five counties that ate the most animal foods and the five counties that ate the least. Here, I’m doing something similar—except this time I’ll be comparing the counties with the super-highest and ultra-lowest heart disease rates and seeing what they do differently in terms of diet.
One of the incredible things about China is the vast difference in heart disease mortality between regions. One county, Fusui, has only 1.5 per 100,000 deaths attributable to heart disease—whereas another county, Dunhuang, has a whoppin’ 184. That’s even more than the US’s figure of 106.
In case graphs freak you out, here’s a summary of what’s below:
- The healthy-hearted regions almost universally had higher intakes of animal fat, animal protein, dietary cholesterol, and saturated fat than the heart-disease-prone regions.
- The healthier regions generally had lower intakes of fiber, light-colored vegetables, plant protein, vegetable oil, and—big surprise—wheat flour.
- Consumption of green vegetables didn’t differ significantly between the high and low heart disease regions. Neither did smoking rates, total cholesterol, or non-HDL cholesterol, although HDL cholesterol looks slightly higher in the regions with excellent heart health.
Does this “prove” anything about diet and heart disease? Nope—there’s the curse of epidemiology again. But we can make the observation that some regions in China exhibited astonishingly low rates of heart disease while eating more animal foods than the Chinese average. And the county with the absolute lowest consumption of animal foods, Longxian, had the second highest rate of heart disease mortality out of all the counties studied. (For the record, I used the China Study II data for this, all of which is available online.)
Key for the graphs:
Red bars, high heart disease rates—left to right:
- VB = Dunhuang
- TD = Longxian
- WC = Tulufan
- XA = Yongning
- CC = Jiangxiang
Blue bars, low heart disease rates—left to right:
- PD = Fusui
- NC = Qiyang
- PA = Cangwu
- NB = Mayang
- NA = Linwu
Average value for all counties studied in the China Study II.
The graphs should be pretty easy to understand without me yapping away, so without further ado, here ya go.
Hey, this is one of my favorite posts!!! Vegetable oils are toxic. Rey Peat explains it all.
Ray Peat and I don’t 100% agree on everything, but we’re pretty close to one another on this issue, and we do correspond with one another from time to time. You might like my new article:
Precious Yet Perilous — Understanding the Essential Fatty Acids
And my most recent blog post on vegetable oils and fatty liver:
Does Your Liver Look Like an Eskimo’s Dinner? Fatty Liver is a Silent Epidemic
Would it be safe to conclude then that PUFAs including Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are best avoided or minimized?
To a certain extent, but not to the point of excluding important nutrient-dense foods just because they contains some PUFA. Cod liver oil, for example, is a very valuable way to get vitamins A and D and a little DHA. For someone who eats grass-fed egg yolks, some fatty fish here and there, gets lots of sunshine in a climate with year-round UV-B, and eats liver, they’d have no need of cod liver oil, but for others it makes sense. I think it’s important to keep PUFA-rich oils and foods in moderation and not go downing bottles of them just because “omega-3s are good for you.” Hope that makes some sense.
I tried to read your post on essential fatty acids but it mostly made my head hurt. I’m now trying to figure out what I need to do on my supplements. Most things I’ve read suggested 6 to 10 grams of Omega 3 (like 300mg in a typical fish oil cap) per day. Robb Wolf suggests around 500mg per 10 pounds of body weight (varying on current work load, diet, and health level). I was up to about 48 to 50 caps a day (big guy on a bad diet for 30 years and supposedly need to cool the inflammation caused by my fat stores). Maybe another post is warranted for us slower minded people. I’m not sure who to believe 100% but also trying to think for myself and factor in conventional meats. I’m cutting my fish oils to when I eat conventional meats (trying to balance the 6 to 3 ratio) and taking cod liver oil at night regardless of diet. Also curious if a high dose O-3 after a work out would be beneficial the same way that supposedly a ibuprofen dose post work out is supposed to help recovery and growth.
Step.back.from.the.supplements. The answer to a bad diet is a good diet, not massive supplementation.
And more evidence to support Angela’s advice:
“But even if a study managed to highlight a genuine health connection to some nutrient, you’re unlikely to benefit much from taking more of it, because we consume thousands of nutrients that act together as a sort of network, and changing intake of just one of them is bound to cause ripples throughout the network that are far too complex for these studies to detect, and that may be as likely to harm you as help you.”
I’m sorry the article is difficult to read. It’s hard to write an article that is accurate and at the same time will be understood by everyone. I tried my best to make it interesting and when possible a little amusing, but for folks who find the information too technical there is always a summary included. In this case the summary is first in the series of “sidebars” at the end of the article.
I do not understand, intuitively, why anyone would want to take ibuprofen after a workout so I asked the protein/exercise specialist in our department about this and she said that many people take ibuprofen when they overworkd themselves to reduce pain, but there was no evidence that ibuprofen increases muscle recovery and one study showing it does the opposite. My own effort to look through pubmed supports this. This study showed that ibuprofen and acetaminophen nearly abolished the normal increase in protein sythesis that ordinarily occurs after a resistance training workout: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11832356
Since EPA, found in fish oil, has a similar pharmacological effect to ibuprofen, I would think that huge doses of fish oil after a workout would sabotage recovery in the same way that ibuprofen does.
Figure 4 in my article shows that six grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day causes a large increase in the harmful process of lipid peroxidation (destruction of lipids) in healthy men. I think this level would be difficult to get from food. Perhaps a few select groups like the Inuit may have gotten levels this high, but 1) they needed these foods due to severe restrictions on food availability and 2) many of the more obscure and unpalatable parts of their diet may have made enormous doses of omega-3’s safe, and I would not try replicating one peculiarity of their diet without replicating all of it.
I do use some cod liver oil, I do think it is an important source of fat-soluble vitamins, and I do think it is a good idea to have some DHA in the diet. But if you are taking 50 capsules of fish oil every day, you should be considering this a drug rather than a food. I would be careful.
Hope that helps,
Dr. Michael Eades favors krill oil over fish oil because of they are bound to phospholipids instead of triglycerides and because of the presence antioxidant asthaxanthin.
Do you think these are enough reasons to continue taking krill oil rather than just skip omega-3 fatty acid supplements altogether including krill oil?
The main benefit of krill oil is that the high proportion of omega-3 associated with phospholipid allows greater bioavailability to the brain and it is therefore more efficient at reversing neurological disorders. Omega-3 from cod liver oil will still be incorporated into phospholipids and make it to the brain, just at a lower rate.
Eggs have a good proportion in phospholipids, and if they are pastured, have a nice proportion of omega-3, just fine for someone who isn’t diseased, growing, pregnant, or lactating.
Not that it isn’t nice to have some asthaxanthin, but any good manufacturer will prevent peroxidation in the bottle. What we care about after that is preventing oxidative stress in the body, and that depends on the total antioxidant support in the diet, not the specific antioxidants in the fish oil. No one has yet demonstrated which antioxidants or network of antioxidants are necessary to prevent large doses of fish oil from increasing oxidative stress. If they exist, I suspect they are primarily composed of vitamin C, vitamin E as alpha- and gamma-tocopherols, glutathione-boosting nutrients (raw milk proteins, raw egg white proteins, vitamin B6, vegetable polyphenols, and so on) antioxidants found abundantly in organ meats such as coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, and so on. I’m not prepared to tell someone it’s ok to take a bottle of fish or krill oil every day if they take my hypothetical antioxidant cocktail, however.
Hope that helps,
Don’t forget, this goes to all, that cod liver oil contains high amounts of Vitamin A, in a form that will cause toxic levels to easily build up. (Vegetable forms of vitamin A are better is this respect – you cannot overdose – compared to the direct injection into the body that comes from animal forms). One pill a day is enough for most people.
Not sure about the validity of this claim–haven’t there been cases of carrot-induced jaundice? These were in people who were eating a diet that mainly consisted of carrots, btw.
Also I read recently that people diffe in ther ability to convert beta-crotene. (Sorry for spelling errors. Having a computer issue here.)
Thanks a bunch for looking into that for me and responding.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to diss your article. It was just over my head with a lot of stuff I know nothing about. My problem, not yours.
It seems what I read was about bone density and the timing of NSAIDs.
It was in this article:
and had a link to this study:
Still makes me wonder is there is any way to put an inflammatory response to work for us by timing o6 and o3 intake.
I don’t think timing PUFA intake will be useful because they are stored in cell membranes and utilized when the enzymes are activated in response to a stimulus that has nothing directly to do with PUFA intake.
That’s an interesting study. Apparently, putting the two together, ibuprofen after a workout might help bone mineral density and might sabotage muscle recovery. I’m not sure what to make of that except to conclude that trying to use drugs to get healthy instead of nutrition is too confusing and likely to produced mixed results.
Thank you D for your expose. I am in India, working, and coming across the same bias from Indians in regards to their health and diet as T.Colin Cambell (it looks like T Coli…a nasty bacteria) presents. India is the number 1 vegetarian country in the world and it is #1 in Diabetes and Heart Disease. Cause and correlation? The best thing about India is it is 1pm here and as you post while America sleeps, we in China and India can be the first comments. A small victory to put up with the heat and humidity. Its like New Orleans in August without the booze or the crawfish heads.
acccording to one (peer reviewed) Indian journal piece it seems you’re wrong about that theory…
Title of study… Comparative risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among vegetarians and non-vegetarians (in India)
Conclusion: “The results show that increased conformity to vegetarian diets protected against risk of type 2 diabetes. ”
From a quick google search the underlying causes in India seem to be increasing sedentary lifestyles (more common in urban areas) high sugar and junk food diets – and with a genetic pre-disposition in Asian Indians…
I am working here in India with hundreds of Diabetics. Sorry, but your study in an Indian Journal is wrong. They have a biased agenda. I don’t base my beliefs on one study. The diet of junk food has hit India hard and I long ago read the other study you mentioned that said Indians were more likely to become Type 2 with the same diet as Anglos. It doesnt explain the bullet like rise of India to #1. India has shot past both America and China in a matter of 5 years because they have taken out the Ghee and Coconut oils as their doctors follow American Doctors and the ADA off a cliff. India’s middle class is just sightly higher than our population. We are all upper middle class and rich compared to them. We have a 10 fold more exposure to sugar and junk food and triple the exposure time of poor diet that they have experienced. With a non-veg diet you have sat fat to blunt the carb rush that occurs with a low fat/high carb diet. If you are trying to defend the fallacy that veg diets protect against diabetes better than one based on animal products you will lose. High carb diets with high fat stimulate fat storage. As insulin goes up, insulin sensitive lipase shuts off fat burning. Leptin levels increase as carbs increase. Results in at storage and metabolic disadvantage. Low carb reduces insulin and high fat reduces leptin in a low carb medium. All the bio markers of AGEing reduce down to a better profile. Diabetes is a model of advanced aging. I can make an Indian healthy again but it sure handicaps me to not have more animal products (sat fat) and protein to work with. Now address the problem of 60% of the world’s heart patients are in India (from the WHO stats).
… even in the 90’s traveling by camel across the Rajistan out land, you could still find Sport Ritter Chocolate Bars in the remotest of the remote little shops (badly melted and remelted of course…) – no doubt junk/sugar food is taking it’s toll in India–
Please people, do some research on “resistant starch” before you start making claims about carbohydrates having a negative effect on blood sugars, diabetes and insulin sensitivity/ insulin resistance and weight gain.
Here is an article about resistant starch on wikipedia:
If you believe that the people who contributed to the article are bias, you could do some research by possibly starting at the following link and searching for ‘resistant starch and diabetes’ and ‘resistant starch and weight change’.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed – PubMed comprises more than 20 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
Also try searchers for key words such as meat, saturated fat, leafy vegetables, beans, nuts together with ‘diabetes’ and ‘weight change’. Also take a look at some of the meta-analysis on these topics when available, though not perfect they often have advantages over smaller studies.
After doing some research on resistant starches, you will most likely realize why resistant starch is very rarely mentioned by low-carb advocates.
Here are a few studies on Indian populations:
I read the article, but I am failing to understand what you see as its significance in this context.
If we now realize that certain natural foods contain a small percentage of this “resistant starch”, are you saying that continuing to eat them as we always have means somehow the effects will be different?
Are you saying that we should eat more of the foods that contain a small percentage of this “resistant starch”, displacing other healthy foods, or even that we should purchase a synthesized or extracted version and consume it as a “superfood” or supplement, instead of real, natural, or whole foods?
Some of the claims in the article make little sense. The implied notion that cold cooked potatoes are significantly undigested because they have been converted to a “resistant starch” is absurd, as anyone who has eaten them and found them as filling as hot cooked potatoes could tell you.
Why would I strive to eat foods that do not digest properly? Sounds like the best way to get malnourished.
Fiber for that matter, either gets digested by gut flora into fatty acids or it doesn’t digest and makes for vitamin rich poop. I’ll stick to just eating the fat directly.
Listen T or whomever you are, you read something besides the small uninteresting stuides that you bring up. Starting with the first. It is a study that combines high fat with high carb. Deadly, and you want to point your finger at the high fat, not high carb. No one that ii respect supports high carb high fat. Just high fat, low carb. I am a Type 3 Diabetic, having driven myself right thru Type 2 as I worked at the Pritikin Center, the predecessor of Dr. Dean Ornish. This low fat bullshit drove me to Become Insulin Dependant. Now I work, in the field, in India, with poor and middle class diabetics and we reverse their diabetes with a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. I work with Dr. Ron Rosedale. If you do better work than me…keep talking. If you have never cured a diabetic or reversed diabetic complications then shut your hole. I can pull up as many stuides sitting in a dark corner using a laptop as you. However, I choose to be in India…actually saving lives and using techniqes that work. Yo don’t. i reiterate. Shut up or put up. Sorry to Denise for using your blog for rebuttals.
Great stuff Andre. I am curing type 2’s and have had a perfect result with a type 1 also, here in South of England. You are right and T is just a talker.
I want to ask this group (even though I am coming in a year and a half later than this series of comments occured, ha ha) if anyone else is dealing with type 1 diabetics? It works. Just get them off the carbs and onto high sat fat diet, not too heavy on protein, and voila! No insulin, no hypos, no systemic candida, no ammenorrhoea, no hair loss, no fat, and not thin either. I have only done it once, with a 15 yr old girl, but it has worked a treat. Her paediatrician is not pleased and looks daggers at me in meetings!
Type 2s can be tough cookies, and I want to ask if you have seen major improvements in peripheral neuropathy once it has progressed a bit.
Really keen to have people’s comments please.
ididid (Real name available if you are a serious person in this field). Ta folks, you are great. Chris Masterjohn big thanks.
Actually China has recently overtaken India as the new diabetes capital of the world.
Thanks for the heads up article. I was basing my stats on WHO (2008). Looks like I better start speaking Mandarin.
Tom, On second look, the study uncovered more Chinese than previously thought have Diabetes. New study, new stats. BIG PROBLEM…They have not done the closer exam on India. The following is from your article…
Dr Anoop Misra, director of the department of diabetes at Fortis Healthcare, believes that India’s diabetes figures too are grossly underestimated. A similar study to the one done by the Chinese, according to Dr Misra, would bring out India’s real burden. “I feel that India’s diabetes burden too will be a lot more than estimated. At present, while 50 million are known to be diabetic, 100 million are at the stage of pre-diabetes in India.”
As soon as they do, India will be number one again. statistics, statistics. I stand by my first comments. I will continue my Hindi studies.
I’m new to this part of the blogosphere (just read GCBC and The Paleo Solution… and loved them both) and am glad to have my eyes opened a bit.
What has been more eye-opening than the aforementioned books is the near militancy of some folks (your good friends at 30BAD). I am amazed at the anger generated by your absolutely valid examination of TCS, as well as their evident manipulation of Wikipedia to eliminate your arguments.
Even if you are the figurehead for a group of individuals (the Illuminati perhaps?) the points made about the incorrect assumptions, correlation and observation as opposed to causation, and interpretation of the data slanted to ones beliefs are still valid.
Perhaps what should be exposed is the “vegan editor network” at Wikipedia! 🙂
Thanks for all the good info… keep it up!
If you keep your eyes open and examine your observations critically, you will realize that almost everyone in the US (I have no experience outside this country) is irrationally attached to their diet, and hardly anyone has thought very hard about how they have chosen it. Meat-eaters attack vegans and vice versa, and both vegans and meat-eaters attack vegetarians. And vice versa.
Meanwhile, people who eat mostly junk food attack those who eat lots of vegetables, and people who buy processed prepared food attack those who cook everything from basic ingredients as too hard for normal people to do. And everybody attacks those on food stamps, because no matter what they’re doing, they are sure it must be wrong.
So many people seem to think that the existence of people who eat differently than they do is some kind of personal attack, or an attack on the American Way of Life™.
Even people who honestly try to do the right thing are usually getting information that is based on bad, old research or is just plain wrong. Vegan sites are full of incorrect info, much of it deliberately so to push their agenda.
But I think there is a special sort of attachment that approaches religious belief that comes with being willing to drastically restrict your food intake for philosophical reasons.
Eating a diet that is so drastic that you spend much of your waking hours fixating and planning so it interferes with your living a normal life is a mental condition called “orthorexia nervosa”.
In my observation, people that eat paleo don’t push their agenda on others. If they are like me they share their enthusiasm for a way of eating that has dramatically improved their health.
Denise never went to their websites and posted – she merely re-analyzed a bunch of statistics, came to different conclusions, that criticized their ‘bible’.
Could these same people sit down and analyze the studies in ‘Food and Western Disease’ (Lindeberg) for example, or even show that Denise’s analysis is wrong? I think not.
I can’t talk for others but I’ve never posted on Vegan websites trying to change their point of view, which as you say is philosophical (been there myself) so no point in trying to change from that perspective anyway. A recent vegetarian I worked with (I’m a nutritionist) decided to give paleo a fair go for 6 weeks as long as the meat she ate come from happy animals. Her sports performance and health improved dramatically. What can I say? I’ve never known anyone to go from paleo to vegan and report the same results.
I’ve eaten vegetarian, I’ve eaten Paleo. I’ve eaten SAD and healthy food pyramid. No comparison, I’ve never been more well, strong or lean.
My only problem with Paleo diets is that they aren’t Paleo. Not even remotely. Its a no-grain, no-dairy, whole foods omnivorous diet but that’s not a very catchy name. I’m not sure what to call it.
I have to disagree about meat-eaters. Actually, aside from a subculture where meat-eating is conflated with manhood, most people eating “standard American diet” (I would say dietS) are caught between trying to think about food (and how they’re going to pay for it) as little as possible (life in this country for all but the superrich is very stressful… and, hell, being superrich is stressful too, because there’s always that more successful d-bag with the bigger yacht just taunting you) or *trying* to eat right but feeling completely confused by 30 years of conflicting government guidelines, fad diets, and Oprah.
At my workplace, the employer briefly tried a wellness program (which they have now scaled back on due to budget cuts–boo, hiss) and quite frankly even my schlubbiest coworkers were receptive to criticism of their diet and tips for improvement. Of course, it had to come from someone marginally credible. The silly sorority girl intern who came in once and said, “But I know about what you’re going through. One time I gained five pounds,” and made food suggestions completely impractical vis a vis our work conditions was not received well. But colon cancer guy (he was a fellow employee from another division) had a rapt audience. I’ve seen a lot of people (yes, including men and junk food lovers) make a sincere effort to change.
It may be that there are some people who love to troll vegan forums (although it seems like just being a vegan who doesn’t toe the party line could get you labeled a “troll”), but these do not represent the majority of omnivores. In fact, many omnivores have “heard” that veganism is super healthy, but don’t think they could manage it. (If they work hard, long days for which they need steady energy and the boss would frown on taking 2 hr lunch breaks or napping on the job, yeah, from what I gather about veganism, they are correct they couldn’t manage it, lol. Heck, when I started working out more, plus working 50 hr weeks, I found I HAD to switch to chicken at lunch from rice&beans because the hippy fare was putting me to sleep in the afternoon, and my job demanded alertness. I was resistant because the chicken was more expensive and I was worried about eating processed meats, but that sleepy sh** had to stop.)
These have been my observations here from Canada. People freakishly attached and defensive and dismissive of anyone else’s eating plan.
I like fish, vegetables and olive oil therefore a Mediterranean style diet is a good fit for me. What so irrational about that? ;o)
Loving your work, thanks for the great posts
Denise – great post. You are very clever for a girl
Does anyone else think “The Denise Minger Scam” would be a great name for a band?
I spotted your pages only a while ago but I have been really enjoying your writings. Your text is fun to read while still drilling into real facts. You also got me interested in statistics, I even dug out my old schoolbooks to understand your analysis.
But, flattering aside and in medias res:
In this post the graph of meat intake and animal/protein consumption seems to be in contradiction with each other. E.g. in the animal food graph, the XA is far less than half of the PD value. But in the meat intake graph, the XA and PD values are almost equal.
I know that you did not collect the data but may be you can still come up with some reasons behind this discrepancy.
One explanation I came up with is that the animal food graph was about percentage of diet and the meat intake was g/day. So they ate same amount of meat but the XA folks did not stop there, they ate also more other stuff. You did not have the total calories graph but it could show that the total calories correlate with the heart diseases (I would not be surprised). Same thing with BMI, probably.
So, is it more about how much you eat rather than what you eat? (I know it is both, just provoking;-)
Thanks for putting up the the effort of sharing all this information.
There are other sources of animal protein than meat.
Most of the discrepancy is explained by fish intake (which the “meat” variable excludes)—the low-heart disease groups tended to eat more of it. I thought I uploaded fish already, but it looks like I missed it, so I’ll add it right now. 🙂
The fish graph explains it nicely, thanks for adding that.
I actually downloaded the data and at first it looked that there is a big difference in total calories (850 kcal between XA and PD) but when looking the averages between the groups, the difference was only 50 kcal. I used the 1989 data.
“Most of the discrepancy is explained by fish intake (which the “meat” variable excludes”
T. Colin Campbell is right. How could any of us know anything about nutrition if we didn’t even know that fish was a vegetable.
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
German philosopher (1788 – 1860)
Are we even at stage two yet? I’m glad Denise is only 23. :p
Well worthy of a mighty genius. 😉
Yesterday I listened to Jimmy Moore’s old interview of John Briffa, where Briffa speculated that vegans may get so outraged because of essential fatty acid deficiencies. It’s a pretty good theory, actually.
So don’t be too hard on them. But keep up the good work.
I’ve always said that when people don’t eat enough animal fat their brains dry up. Besides, fat keeps your eyes bright and your coat shiny.
yes! – consider – the brain needs a wide and balanced variety of aminos/nutrients etc to function “properly” ie to process inputs and organize them to a rational/logical conclusion – being deficient in such important balances are bound to cause some if not significant changes in the neuro-transmitters in the brain and elsewhere.
but i must say i like Doc Eades comment in response to someone speculating that if we evolved BECAUSE we ate meat, then vegans may well be on another evolutionary path towards being a separate species – and Doc’s comment was that if they do become a separate species (paraphrased) “i wonder if they’ll taste like chicken?”
Part off the process of “evolution” of vegan humans would be a die-off from an increased mortality rate of those who were less able to tolerate low protein diets. I doubt the population would remain separated for the many generations this would take. As it is now, few vegans and even fewer raw food vegans are able to maintain that diet for an extended period of time.
Since wheat became a substantial part of the human diet in many cultures, we have clearly “evolved” to better tolerate it by the deaths of many who were unable to do so, who failed to pass on their genes to descendants by their early deaths.
Science shows that this is not the case, because celiacs have such a robust immune system that it evens out their mortality rate with those who can tolerate wheat.
Sounds like you don’t know any celiacs. I suggest that you visit a forum where posting goes on. So many celiacs have had their immune systems assaulted for many years that they are chronically ill and in fragile health, always in fear that a small amount of cross contamination may make them ill for a week or more. The average person who is diagnosed with celiac in the US has had clear symptoms for 10 years prior to their diagnosis.
Before the past century, there was nothing that could be done about celiac. They were aware of the illness but had no idea what caused it. It generally struck children who often died from it before reaching adulthood.
Women with celiac often have reproductive issues and fertility problems related to years of malnutrition caused by malabsorption of nutrients.
A female capable of critical thinking?
…she’s a WITCH! Burn her!
Denise is not a witch. She’s You. Thank you, as ever, for a painstakingly researched article. The good wife’s guide is now my screensaver and will soon become a yardstick by which I will pass judgement on the female of the species.
***SUPER**** – i actually watch my email in for your blogs/comments – they are always such informative entertainment!
and my gawd – those vegans are a vicious crowd!
lock your digital (and real) doors my dear…
What gets me is that they’re probably applauding the suppression of information. Sick.
Thanks for the post, Denise. As always, I’m looking forward to the next.
Remember the response to Denise’s work where they accused her of not reading the book The China Study, so she didn’t understand its purpose? The purpose of the book was to find data that would appear to support a vegan or raw vegan hypothesis for health, and cobble it together into a message to convince readers that this was correct. It didn’t matter whether it was true or not when the purpose was propaganda, not science.
Interestingly, Yongning county (XA) seems to be unduly punished for eating wheat (consuming about half that of the other four most heart disease prone counties). XA are particularly heavy smokers, too, but smoking is almost as heavy in the low heart disease counties, too.
Probably, smoking is only a marginal contributor to heart disease unless you have crippled your immune system with diet. Impairment seems to be most effectively accomplished with a combination of wheat and vegetable oils (i.e, the same as your top two suspects in obesity in China). XA may have hit the trifecta (smoking, wheat, and vegetable oils).
(Perhaps, the tobacco producers should sue the food manufacturers to assume joint liability for some the problems blamed on tobacco; but, of course, they are often one and the same companies.)
BTW, why is the great demon, fructose, never showing up? There are suggestions, e.g. from the studies of fructose malabsorption, that fructose is a threshold issue. That is, there may be few consequences of fructose until consuming above 25g/day or so. Could that explain it?
I can’t believe Wikipedia did that! Well, their reputation went down a notch in my mind. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone really that your writing is being attacked this way. Ad hominem attacks are very effective and reach a large percentage of people. Closed minds rule this world! But, I am glad to see a post that is once again offering an honest analysis of data – from China Study II.
Keep it up, Denise.
I can believe Wikipedia did that, because they’ve been allowing this kind of nonsense for a long time. Wikipedia is simply not a credible source of information about controversial topics.
People who edit Wikipedia could tell you how bad it is over there, I don’t but I’ve heard horror stories. A lot of their well-qualified editors in numerous subjects have stopped contributing because of censorship.
I personally think the majority of Wikipedia is ok. The trouble is, it’s impossible to tell which part is fine and which has been censored unless you dig through the discussions. Even then, if the more senior Wikipedia admins wish it, the visible record of the controversy can be erased.
In other words, Wikipedia is not trustworthy. It never really has been, but today it is far worse than it ever was.
The science articles in Wikipedia used to be put up by bright-eyed, bushy-tailed graduate students and post-docs. They were highly technical, had nice little graphics, and often had cutting-edge info.
In the last few years the quality of science articles has gone to nil. Many of the editors in science areas revolted or walked out about half a decade ago when more stringent WIKI-izing went in (the cult of the editor, ostensibly to shore up the entries–remember when you started seeing those stupid “clean up” tags at the top of entries?), and now enthusiasts and nuts of all stripes have finished the job. The state of things is truly sorry now, with misinformation ruling the day. I head straight for “Discussion” in hopes of finding links to more relevant information.
Enjoying the posts! Wikipedia will be Wikipedia; glad that you’re not letting it get you (interpret as singular or plural “you” as appropriate :-P) down.
This paragraph made me do a double-take:
“One of the incredible things about China is the vast difference in heart disease mortality between regions. One county, Fusui, has only 1.5 per 100,000 deaths attributable to heart disease—whereas another county, Dunhuang, has a whoppin’ 184. That’s even more than the US’s figure of 106.”
On first reading, I interpreted that as saying that out of 100,000 deaths in the population, 1.5 were caused by heart disease. This AMA page says:
“In 2006, coronary heart disease death rates per 100,000 people were 176.3 for white males and 206.4 for black males; and 101.5 for white females and 130.0 for black females. (Death rates are per 100,000 population. The rates use the year 2000 standard population for age adjustment.)”
Assuming that it’s what was intended, the bit on Fusui would be clearer if it instead read as “only 1.5 deaths per 100,000 individuals annually attributable to heart disease”.
Uh, “AHA page”, even.
How awesome is it that your removal on Wikipedia from an anonymous IP in Europe occurred just after the annual Banned Books Week? Yeah, you can’t simply be an intelligent person with an interest in and flair for analysis, you have to be part of a nefarious conspiracy to undermine The One True Way Everyone Should Accept Blindly Because It Is The One True Way.
The only things this removal tells me are this: (a) some people don’t care for free discussion and will go to Soviet lengths to suppress any dissenting opinions and (b) Wikipedia is once again actively spreading disinformation by letting narrow agendas define the scope of knowledge. *sigh*
Isn’t it interesting how some folks can’t even imagine that anyone else can be any smarter than they are? I wonder what such folks eat for breakfast?
Oh wow. I just clicked on your link to the “highly reliable source” and read what they’re up to at that bananas place. Talk about a Soviet-style campaign! I didn’t think I was being quite literal but apparently I was right on target. A person there admits to forming an actual, ongoing “vegan” conspiracy to suppress your posts and replies. Just wow. Reminds me of things like Iran censoring what can and cannot be read on the net.
All Orwellian observations aside, thank you for posting this additional information. One thing’s clear from the CS data: Campbell’s popular diet book is just that, a pop book not a peer-reviewed landmark. It’s about time people began to question his conclusions especially when the data doesn’t support them.
As for me, I think I’ll go get Michael Pollan’s little book of “food rules” and look at them again. Seems to make sense to me.
Awesome. The wheat and veg oil differences are striking!
I got you babe! I got you babe! 😀 😀 😀
I would never think that this shot would be such a hit 😀 You literally reposted MY comments from 30bananas.com directly to your next post (mind to remind the people here I am a woman as well, and not some fat 50 year old ultra-conservative grandpa as “Denise Minger” indicates :D). My, you must be really mad 😀
As a well educated and hard working modern woman I can only say that you probably really wish for Home EC 😀 A thought like that would never have crossed my mind 😀 😀 I was only wondering why a pretty and healthy girl like you does have the time for hate filled debates and all that hidden war – INSTEAD of a CAREER and FOCUSING ON YOUR OWN JOB or FAME or STARDOM or PROJECTS 😀 ALL healthy and pretty young girls I know do exactly that 😀 Usually only the sick and broken and usually old and sad lead such flame-wars online 😀
I do not know how twisted your brain must be to see Home EC here, but following this twisted up blog and the twisted up “reasoning” here I do not wonder about anything 😀
I add here some of what I said at 30bananas.com:
Denise Minger is a fun foodie blogger who studies English literature. NONE of her “scientific responses” to Dr.Campbell are peer-reviewed or in any way scientifically backed. She is a LAYPERSON with NO real scientific experience, leading a nonsensical online flame-war against Dr.Campbell.
It is good to know that ALL necessary to become a “reliable source” and to write “scientific documents” is a RANDOM BLOG, making a lot LOUD NOISE and a study of English literature 😀
All you need to become a “reliable scientific source” is to “discuss” things with famous real professors via a random – but loud and backed by lobby groups – foodie blog 😀 Why study and learn and peer-review, and publish in REAL scientific magazines for REAL scientists and REAL experts to be checked, and why become a doctor or professor – if LOUD NOISE is all that you need to box your way into the brains of anybody who wants to hear it 😀
I learned from you “Denise Minger” 😀 I will do the same myself in future 😀 I will write long long long “scientific” sounding papers and get many many many visitors who applaud me, and no matter what I say will become “true” 😀
I will be hugely popular in no time “proving” whatever the people want to hear with my long long long SCAM PDFs 😀 If it ain’t like I am saying so PLEASE bring me the REAL peer-reviews for your long long long PDF “documents” 😀
Denise Minger, if you really exist and if you are really so incredibly overly madly crazily interested in “exposing” Dr.Campbell, then please do us ALL a favor, study properly, and go the proper SCIENTIFIC way 😀 Bring REAL scientific PROOFS and PEER-REVIEWED documents and lead a REAL open discussion with Dr.Campbell.
I am looking forward to your next REAL steps and not any more of this cowardice here, in this random blog, surrounded by your little goonies who applaud you all the time. SO FAR you are a fraud and we exposed you and that is why all is breaking down NOW 😀
I hope however that you will be able to stop this insane blog here and escape becoming the target of online flame-wars in the name of large lobby groups. I am just a random woman and as a woman I can only warn you to get out of here and leave the big fat lobby guys do their dirty tricks with their mafia methods alone 😦 I do not want to read any fatal news about “young model, who pretended to be a blogger, attacked and killed in tremors after breaking apart large online scam” or something like that 😦 If they do not need you anymore they will dispose of you 😦
OMG how old are you? I read more cogent things from teenies.
She is “a well educated and hard working modern woman,” which should be obvious. Only a modern, well-educated woman would use so many smiley faces. duh!
LOL! Keep drinking the koolaid, sister. And PLEASE keep leaving comments like this! It makes it too easy to show how lacking the mental capabilities are at your closed, intolerant forum. And that you’re all pretty much crazy. I love it!
Haha! There’s a whole keg of that kool-aid in the back of the Day-Glo Bus. 🙂
So “Betty” is a troll! Now who would have guessed that? *giggle* Although I don’t recall a troll so over-fond of smilies before, so perhaps this is a first, in terms of number of smilies per post. (Must be all that dietary sugar, producing such a spastic, opiate-laden-like reply.)
But as the song goes, Yes we have no bananas, we have no bananas today! (But we sure got nuts!)
Hi Betty Banana,
Thanks for stopping by! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
I’d offer a reply, but I need to consult with my lobby groups first. It’s in the contract.
OMG Neisy – ignore this creature and do more of the great work you are doing – just don’t give such blatant **idiots** any energy–
my partner and i are in a “battle” of our neighbors choosing (on 40 acre parcels in the middle of the countryside mind you…) over us having a 2000 sq foot greenhouse and growing organic tomatoes for market – it has cost us a bundle in legal fees as they have screamed long and loud to very stupid county officials – but as people – you just cannot give any energy to these kinds of hate/fear mongers –
go for the truth. period.
You claim at
that because of having your Wikipedia links to 30bananas deleted, it means a conspiracy is afoot.
Even with my limited Wikipedia editing, I know that you are not allowed to post links to blogs and forums. It’s a Wikipedia rule.
Just *how* experienced an editor are you…?
Are you implying she is not a healthy, young and pretty woman? That’s low. She is beautiful!
Maybe THIS is her passion? Blogging about nutrition, food, statistics, science. She has a degree in English lit? So? What’s your degree? Fruitology?
You’re aware that The China Study is not peer-reviewed, right?
I’m surprised such a well-educated woman would fall for such glaring (at least to anyone who has ever taken an intro to logic class) logical fallacies.
You start with an ad hominem abusive attack (fallacy #1), from which you create several straw man arguments (#2), but even then your only rebuttal is to go back to the ad hominem attack. Your whole purpose is obviously to discredit Ms. Minger – also known as “poisoning the well” (#3).
It’s interesting that you provide not one iota of evidence for your claims – they are nothing but fantasy. You expect people to take your claims at face value, yet you refuse to treat others with the same courtesy. Frankly, I’m surprised your comments go over so well at 30banana, they seem to have a lot of fairly smart people over there (they are just wrong, that’s all 😉 ). I suppose making an appeal to belief (#4) gets people to stop thinking critically and starting thinking dogmatically.
Honestly, if you are actually college educated – I assume that’s what you mean by “well” educated – I’d like to know where you went to school. Because if one of my kids ever wants to go to the same school, I know I’ll have to supplement their logic courses as they are obviously not well taught.
(You may see that last bit as poisoning the well, but I really would like to know where you went to school)
OMFG. I don’t know whether to laugh (until my eyes bleed??) or cry at this gibberish. You guys at 30Bad would do yourselves one hell of a favour if ye just stopped talking, seriously.
You’ve just exposed your true colors. I’ve only read about you from what others have said on various blogs. But after this little tantrum–how do you expect anyone to take you seriously?
“Betty” thinks what “she” has written is brilliant, incisive satire outing the growing Mingerscam™ conspiracy, thus proving that we are all uneducable idiots who fail to understand the purpose of science.
Hint: the “true purpose” of science is the same as the purpose of Campbell’s book: to advance veganism, whether or not reality-based justifications can be constructed that will do so.
Why is it that the posts from these 30BAD folks are nearly unreadable? How does this person come to the conclusion that she is “well-educated.” Judging from the crazed posts from attack vegans, it is obvious that the vegan diet is not good for brain health. However, the ability to insert 🙂 and 😦 faces seems to remain intact.
Long live the Minger conspiracy! Shhh, don’t tell the vegans.
(Seriously, I am sure there are some nice sane vegans out there somewhere.)
It appears that Betty may be German, judging by the German IP address she used to edit the CS Wikipedia entry. As it happens, I’m married to a German, and while her spoken English is fluent, it’s as if written English taps into an entirely different area of the brain, because her syntax goes all wonky when she writes. That said, I don’t think the bizarre and unstable mindset that comes across in that post can be completely attributed to English as a second language.
LOL. Thanks for confirming my thoughts on what a nutburger religionist you and your brethren are. Man, you must really be pissed to cover up your anger with 20+ emoticons in your message. Oh and the true scam? The China Study scam. Sorry but your vegan demi-god TCC is a fraud like Ancel Keys and his “study”. Please give my regards to Reverend Campbell the next time you cross paths.
Religionist. You called it.
1) Surely it’s not ‘loud noise’ and a ‘scam’ if it’s just an un-advertised blog? At least not compared to the China Study, given that that’s a published book and all making money for Campbell.
2) Since one of Betty’s issues is Denise’s lack of scientific accreditation, surely her writing could be considered ‘peer reveiwed’ as it is being read/commented/critiqued by similar lay-persons?
Also, what on earth is with all the smilies and motherly advice? It’s creepy like an old man handing out candy.
Are you Wolf Blitzer?
In the chart: %Calories from Animal Protein, is our blue-man-group really getting less than 2% of their daily calories from animal protein?
They still ate pretty low amounts of meat. If you look at the animal meat consumption, it was only 50g on average. That’s less than 2oz. There are on average 7g of protein per oz (though it varies depending on the animal and cut). This puts animal protein at about 12g per day, or 48 calories.
Even for a 2,000 calorie diet (which is very low – other sources I’ve read say more like 2500) that’s only 2.4% of calories from animal protein. At 2500 calories, it’s less than 2%.
Animal fat intake (which according to one of Denise’s comments was *additional* animal fat, like lard and whatnot) was around 18g, or 162 calories – significantly higher than the protein number. That plus the protein would account for around 10% of the dietary calories (which is about what the “Animal Food” category states).
I’m not sure which of these, if any, includes fish, as they didn’t include fish in the animal food category (I’m not sure what else it would be categorized as, maybe just it’s own special category?). Still, it would add about 5g of protein and 20 calories to the average low-HD group’s numbers, so it doesn’t look like they were included in any of the “animal” categories.
Most of their diet was still from plants, it’s the low-disease counties had more meat and fish and, most significant in my opinion, less wheat (usually almost none) compared to the high disease counties.
From this data, do you conclude that animal products are not a causative factor in heart disease?
If so, I think you’re overinterpreting.
Of all these regions, the highest cholesterol intake was 140 mg/day. That’s less than half
of the American Heart Association’s 300 mg recommendation that many Americans likely
triple. That’s not even one egg’s worth.
The highest saturated fat intake was roughly 22 grams. That’s a mere two tbsp of butter.
These are the highest values, most were far below that.
Every one of these regions was consuming an extremely low animal based diet compared
to North American standards. And I’m sure the animal products they consumed were a far cry
from our industrial versions.
Now, it is clear that wheat and vegetable oil were likely causes of heart disease among those consuming them. And the small amount of animal products consumed don’t seem to have an effect. But given the fact that they were all eating primarily plant based, relatively low-fat diets, we can’t assume that animal products are safe in larger amounts. Certainly not the amount low-carbers reach. I’m not saying they aren’t, we just can’t make that assumption from this data.
Looking at this data, given the nutritional zeitgeist in America at the time, I really can’t blame Campbell for broadcasting that plant-based diets are protective against disease. That is written all over the wall here. He would’ve been remiss and overinterpretive to exonerate animal products because one group of people eating 140 mg of cholesterol had less heart disease than another eating 50 mg. The difference there is fairly negligible there.
I don’t understand why he didn’t react to the association between wheat, vegetable oils and cancer. I think he seriously dropped the ball there.
What this data says is:
Wheat/Vegetable Oil = Likely Bad
Plant-Based Diet = Good
Animal Products = Unresolved
“I really can’t blame Campbell for broadcasting that plant-based diets are protective against disease”
What non-plants exactly do wheat and vegetable oil come from?
“From this data, do you conclude that animal products are not a causative factor in heart disease?”
Since it’s only an observational study, we can’t ‘conclude’ anything at all from this data—so no.
In his book, Campbell wrote:
“The findings from the China Study indicate that the lower the percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits—even when that percentage declines from 10% to 0% of calories. So it’s not unreasonable to assume that the optimum percentage of animal-based products is zero…” (pg 242)
This is what I take issue with. I believe at least some people can do well with diets that are fairly low in animal products, as long as those animal products are nutrient dense and good quality. But there’s a big, big difference between “low animal products” and “no animal products”—Campbell promotes the latter as more healthful, and claims the China Study data supports this. It doesn’t. If anything, there seems to be a lower limit of animal product consumption where, once surpassed, mortality rates climb (at least with heart disease).
This data can’t make any comment on what happens with higher animal food consumption, but at least in the lower ranges, it seems that less is not better.
Nicely Put. That makes a lot of sense.
Indeed, it looks like China in general has very low animal product consumption (even the highest were getting less than 2% of their protein from animals and about 10-15% of their calories from animals), but those that do best are on the higher end of that scale.
If anything it promotes your “raw plants plus a little meat” diet, since it excludes processed seeds and seed oil by definition. It definitely does not support a vegan diet.
Still everyone needs to keep in mind that the animal-based food consumption here ranges from very low to virtually none. It can’t say anything about high animal-based food diets. It can’t be used to support a low carb or zero carb diet; you’d need a whole other study for that.
The worst groups averaged 500g of wheat per day! That’s 1600 calories just from wheat! And ALL the low HD counties ate virtually no wheat at all. If that’s not waving a giant red flag saying “look here!” I don’t know what is.
Very interesting info, as usual. The wheat connection is quite impressive, even more so than the vegetable oil which I expected. Such large indications certainly warrant more investigation.
I don’t know much about how Wikipedia works, but how can someone remove your work without your permission? Is there a hierarchy of editors? I’m disappointed to hear your input was removed. Hopefully that was not the final word and can still be resolved.
“I don’t know much about how Wikipedia works, but how can someone remove your work without your permission?”
Yes, they certainly can.
“Is there a hierarchy of editors? ”
Absolutely. Furthermore, above the editors there are admins who control the site. In this case Betty above from 30 bananas has done most of the removals herself, and then got the support of her vegan admin friend (probably mid-level, but far enough up the chain) to make the changes stick.
All based on completely unfounded claims which, really, should not prevent one from editing wikipedia anyway, as there is not supposed to be any original content on wikipedia – it should all be second-hand sourced, so large lobby group or no the edits would be legitimate if they followed the rules.
Google “Corruption of Wikipedia” or anything along those lines and you’ll get a plethora of examples not unlike what happened to Ms. Minger.
Classic example: Immediately after being nominated for vice president, Sarah Palin went through her Wikipedia entry and removed almost all photos and biographical information, logged in as “young trig”, “Trig” being her newborn son’s name.
Yeah, there are thousands of examples. Just look up any controversial subject and look at the discussions page – it will almost certainly be a war between editors, and if it’s controversial enough a war between admins. Though people who tend to become admins also tend to follow a certain line of thinking, if you know what I mean.
I don’t understand why you have ignited so much strife. Campbell was well within his rights declaring that plant-based diets are healthful. He just should’ve explained that the benefits are likely only recognized when white flour and vegetable oils are absent. And I doubt anyone at 30BAD would consider those health foods anyways.
Campbell discourages vegetables oils because they are fats, not because they are singularly bad fats. Campbell played some part in arm twisting McDonald’s into using vegetable oils to cook fries. Ignoring data suggesting vegetable oils are unhealthy (and animal fats are not) is consistent with cognitive dissonance.
Campbell also encourages whole grains. But, he never hints at the dangers of grain consumption w/o proper fermentation, etc. And, there is no credible science suggesting (recklessly manufactured) whole grains are better than refined grains (although that is widespread conventional wisdom).
The elephant in the room for Campbell is manufactured food. Campbell would be my hero if he had more correctly said, “people who ate the most manufactured [not animal-based] foods got the most chronic disease.”
By misdirecting the blame for chronic disease to (even fresh) meat, Campbell seems to be a stooge for “center aisle” Food, Inc., if only by omission and if only inadvertent.
Monsanto also has a habit of editing Wikipedia posts…. Vegan, Wapf or otherwise. It’s unfortunate that sexism is so prevalent on all sides of food discussions. There’s even some disturbingly sexist *supportive* comments on this post!
@Roberto Cambell responded directly to the point about wheat and why he didn’t react to the possible association of wheat and heart disease… There are a lot of simple correlation points in TCS.
“Denise, that correlation of wheat flour and heart disease is interesting but I am not aware of any prior and biologically plausible and convincing evidence to support an hypothesis that wheat causes these diseases, as you infer.”
He then goes on to list a series of 4 confounding variables which are known to be associated with heart disease in prior peer-reviewed studies. Low green vegetable intake, low mono-unsaturated fats, high levels of urea, and higher body weight.
It would be interesting to see all of these graphs done again with the Standard American diet numbers added to the graph, and the multi-variate correlation of wheat vs heart disease controlling for the 4 possible confounding variables mentioned by Campbell.
The relationship between wheat and heart disease stays rock solid regardless of the variables Campbell mentioned, as well as when other potential confounders are controlled for (see my earlier wheat post: http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/02/the-china-study-wheat-and-heart-disease-oh-my/ )
The research is sparse, but there are a number of mechanisms by which wheat may legitimately contribute to heart disease, including by inducing vitamin D deficiency, making LDL particle size smaller and denser (and therefore more atherogenic), and generally increasing inflammation. I’m working on a post about this right now—should be up sometime within the next century. 😉
He did not recognize wheat and vegetable oil because he was to busy playing shenagins with the numbers trying to make it look like meat was the culprit.
“Campbell was well within his rights declaring that plant-based diets are healthful”
Except for the fact that wheat, vegetable oil, sugar, most transfats, etc… are all plant-based. The plant vs meat paradigm is too flawed, and Campbell and others should not be wasting their time on it.
Oops, my above post was in reply to Roberto’s post.
I meant plant based diets without wheat and vegetable oil. Many of those regions had astoundingly low heart disease rates, and they were all eating primarily plant based diets. They just weren’t eating wheat and vegetable oil.
And as much as I hate to quote myself:
I don’t understand why he didn’t react to the association between wheat, vegetable oils and cancer. I think he seriously dropped the ball there.
What this data says is:
Wheat/Vegetable Oil = Likely Bad
Plant-Based Diet = Good
Animal Products = Unresolved
“Except for the fact that wheat, vegetable oil, sugar, most transfats, etc… are all plant-based”
To further refine, I mean WHOLE-FOODS, non industrial plant based diets. And I’m not exactly rooting for Campbell, but he never once advocated vegetable oil, sugar and trans fat. Whole foods were always his emphasis.
Perhaps “plants vs. meat” is a useless debate. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was right to suggest that properly planned plant based diets are healthful. Given this data. Given all the hysteria over fat and cholesterol at the time, if I looked at that data I’d be embracing a plant-based diet just to be better safe than sorry.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that he was right to suggest that properly planned plant based diets are healthful. Given this data.”
I still don’t see the point of using the words “plant based”. Using the words “plant based” instead of just “food” or “diet” implies that there is a problem or potential problem with animal products, but this was not revealed in the data. This is just a bias.
Your attitude seems to be that the question of animal products was “unresolved” by the China Study, so this means a failure to exonerate. There is an implied guilt there. I am not sure this attitude was generally felt before The China Study was published though – The China Study itself probably contributed to this bias in “conventional wisdom”.
I think there was a phobia of saturated fat before the China Study, but most people were saying that lean protein was good. The China Study came out and claimed “nope”, lean animal protein is bad too – all animal products are bad. Campbell claims to this day that animal protein is the most relevant chemical carcinogen he has ever studied. Now instead of saturated fats and cholesterol, we are talking of “plant based” and “animal based”.
I think you seem to be making the argument generally that because the Chinese in this study ate less animal products and more “plant based” food than their American counterparts and were generally healthier in many regards that this means that a more “plant based” diet is healthier.
I think there are several problems with this line of reasoning. Some of these are:
This doesn’t really seem to be the point of doing a cross–county study of China. If you are going to start comparing one culture to another, why stop with the Chinese and Americans.
It is not reasonable based upon the China Study data to say that reduced animal products were the key difference between Chinese and American diets. Between Chinese counties, animal products consistently were not any less healthy than plant products. Sometimes animal food was healthier than many key plant products like fiber, carbohydrates, and plant protein. The reason to use the term “plant based” rather than just “food” comes not from the China data but some other bias. Fat for example had a significant inverse relationship with all cancer mortality just looking at the simple correlations as Campbell was fond of doing (though he considered this correlation “uncorrected” because it was counter to his bias/hypothesis).
The analysis between cultures is likely much more complicated than what you make it. Again, the reason you focus on animal products seems to be a bias. Americans for example likely ate much more junk food, sugar, wheat, vegetable oil, etc…, and again, there is nothing in the China data to suggest that animal food should be considered a likely suspect. Hunter-gatherer cultures would seem to indicate that animal products are not that big of a culprit as well. There doesn’t seem to be a single human culture that was 100% plant based.
And again, Campbell’s bias against animal products might have something to do with him missing wheat and vegetable oil as likely culprits, so there is no telling what else he missed.
Campbell’s bias against meat seems to have really screwed up The China Study, and I think using the term “plant-based” tends to perpetuate the bias.
I seem to have struck a nerve with with you.
I am not defending the totality of Campbell’s viewpoint. I think many of his opinions are idiotic, his stance on protein being one of them.
I have not once in this thread said that animal products are unhealthy, only that we cannot assume they can be safely consumed in any amount from this study – although they certainly appear benign, and as Denise said, even protective in moderation. That’s the trend here, like it or lump it.
I only use the term plant-based because what else am I going to call a number of diets that are based predominantly on plants. And from this data we can clearly see, at least from these populations, that a plant-based diet can be protective against heart disease. That’s all I’m saying.
What if animal products are healthier when they’re consumed in moderation? That is the experience for me at least. When I was on an impeccably planned, whole foods vegan diet – a la Campbell – I felt great at first but slowly weakened. I felt worlds better when I added back moderate amounts of animal products – night and day.
It wasn’t long before I slipped into the low carb craze and gave Atkins a go. I’ve never felt worse in my life. Bags under my eyes, congestion, constipation, no energy, I felt like I had a ball and chain behind me every time I went for a walk. Many active people have this experience with the ultra animal product low carb diet. I know that’s just me. It all depends on the individual. But these sort of graphs aren’t considering individuals, they’re looking at populations. Human health in general. And if we take that approach, it’s worth investigating where on the animal vs. plant spectrum human health seems to thrive best.
I realize it’s incredibly complicated. And we can both agree that this science is not black and white.
Most people’s idea of low-carb is usually Atkins and their idea of Atkins is JUST low-carb which normally includes them thinking corn oil is OK because it is low-carb. Not good.
I hear many say they felt bad, or constipated, or no energy but never say for how long. 3 days? 3 weeks? 1 month? It can take some people weeks to get fat adjusted. There maybe some highly athletic types that burn through enough glycogen to require some more carbs to keep up the energy but most just haven’t given their bodies time to adjust.
I disagree about what most people think about low-carb. Yes, they associate it with “Atkins”, but hardly any of them have read the Atkins diet book. Mostly they think “Atkins” is a diet that forbids any plant matter whatsoever and has people consume nothing but fatty meat, cream, and eggs. Isn’t that what the media seem to be saying about Atkins?
I think many people project onto the Atkins diet. I was in a forum discussion a while back with a girl who was trying to grow long, beautiful hair. Unfortunately she had projected her eating disorders onto the Atkins diet, and was eating all protein, with no carbs and no fat. She had lost most of her hair, but she couldn’t accept that losing her hair was a symptom of something serious wrong with her diet that needed to be addressed. Clearly she was falling victim to rabbit starvation.
I eat “low carb” and I feel better than ever. Anytime the media mentions low carb they get it wrong. Low carb is a relative term, and different people have different definitions for what constitutes low carb. A good starting place is Marks Daily Apple.
You say “…we cannot assume they can be safely consumed in any amount from this study…”. We can’t assume that they are UNSAFE to consume either. To come at animal products from a baseline assumption that animal products are unsafe until proven safe is a bias. Come at it from a neutral perspective. This data doesn’t say much about the safety of animal products yea or nay. But it DOES show that wheat may be a previously-unexplored avenue of disease.
The problem is with the attitude of assuming that plants are somehow inferior to animals.
They are also living things. They also want to live. Why do you single them out to be killed? You wouldn’t mind killing them for shelter and clothing. Why this bigotry?
I would think that killing a single animal for feeding hundreds of people would be much better than killing thousands of plant babies for a single side dish.
And which “single animal” would feed hundreds of people. I thought the dinos went extinct …
LOL. I rather doubt whales was on the original poster’s mind. Most likely something with four legs … but I’ll give you a point for a quick response. 😉
When I wrote:
I don’t understand why he didn’t react to the association between wheat, vegetable oils and cancer. I think he seriously dropped the ball there.
I meant heart disease not cancer.
Two questions: Why is Cangwu high in animal food intake and very low in animal fat intake at the same time?
The data looks quite consistant except for Mayang. Mayang is higher in vegetable oil intake and low in fish intake. Yet they have low heart problems.
Does anyone have any comments on this.
“Two questions: Why is Cangwu high in animal food intake and very low in animal fat intake at the same time?”
I just looked closer at the PDF page for “animal fat intake,” and I’m pretty sure it’s referring to *added* animal fat — such as lard used for cooking — rather than total fat derived from animal products. So the figures in that graph don’t include the fat contained in meat or fish.
Mayang is one of the lowest in wheat intake, even among the low group. Also, their vegetable oil intake was not spectacularly high, just higher than the other low-heart disease counties.
Wheat seems to be the biggest determining factor among the graphs. All of the high-disease counties consumed higher than average amounts of wheat. Yongning appears to buck the trend a little, but they do still have above average wheat intake, paired with very high vegetable oil intake – perhaps the vegetable oil amplifies the effects of the wheat, and without the wheat the somewhat high vegetable oil consumption of Mayang can be balanced out by the rest of their diet?
Just speculating there, but the clear obvious connection is with wheat intake, followed by fish intake (or lack thereof), and then vegetable oil intake.
EVERYONE knows that women can be either cute, or smart, but not both! That’s why your Web Persona was so obviously fake. Be uglier next time if you want credibility!
(sarcasm, in case anyone couldn’t tell – I don’t want hate mail!)
I studied nutritional science for the last four years here in Ireland, seriously the amount of hotties in my class was unreal! Brains + interest in food/nutrition + beauty seems to be a pretty normal combo, although maybe not in the epic proportions that Denise has been endowed with 😉 We had about 45 or so women and 2 blokes in the class too.
Also, I tried to plot these places on a map. I could not identify all of them, but the ones that I found with high heart disease were in the interior North. The ones with low heart disease were in the South. Could climate or customs in these regions have something to do with heart disease? It might be interesting to look at these same comparisons relative to the climate in each area.
It’s definitely possible, for sure.
However if I remember correctly from one of the earlier posts, the northern counties don’t generally have access to fresh vegetables year round, while the southern counties do. This tends to mean more grain consumption is required to offset the lack of other vegetables (grain can be stored for years in its whole form).
It does not seem logical that simply being in the north or south could account for the extreme difference in heart disease, and there are southern counties that do not fair so well either (again, from some of the other posts), so geographic location is probably not a factor except as it pertains to what the people to eat.
You’ve got to remember the Chinese are not nearly as wealthy individually as Americans. They generally can’t afford the luxury of fruits and vegetables shipped from all over the world in order to consume them year round. They are much more reliant and what can be produced locally.
For the north, that means wheat, because wheat can be grown almost anywhere, and can be stored almost indefinitely. This puts sources much closer, and allows for stockpiling.
The south, however, can continue producing vegetables year round, and do not need to rely on stored grains. Also, fish seems to be a big factor as well, so I would expect these counties to be near the coast or a river system as well.
Is it true that the difference in wheat consumption in the two groups of counties (low vs. high heart disease) is almost completely confounded by geography (i.e., are all the high wheat consumption counties in the north and low wheat counties in the south)? If you did the study in India, you would find exactly the reverse pattern – those that consume the most wheat have the least heart disease.
David, do you have any references that you can share that show the difference in the prevanence in heart disease between North and South India?
That would be interesting – according to nationmaster.com India and China consume similar amounts of wheat per capita.
I can’t imagine how general climate could be the cause of the disease itself, and not an influence on diet, which then causes disease.
Here are some quotes from an Indian study* which was studying the skyrocketing incidence of heart disease in India.
Specifically regarding wheat:
“FAO data (1961-1996) indicate a 104% increase in wheat consumption in India associated with decreased intake of millet (-33%), sorghum (-31%) and pulses (-45%).”
Regarding carbohydrates in general:
“In case of carbohydrates, there has been an increase in refined sugars (206%), starchy vegetable (111%), other vegetables (43%), and fruits (32%).”
This is just a note, and was not a component of the study, but it’s a very good point IMO:
“An important and unstudied aspect of the fat intake is effect of various Indian cooking habits on fatty acid composition. Shallow-frying, which is widely prevalent in Indian kitchens, can lead to oxidation of fatty acids and formation of cholesterol oxides which are toxic to arterial endothelium. Deep-frying increases the temperature of oils to very high levels and can change chemical composition of the fats. Trans-fatty acid composition of various Indian fats is not well defined although it has been reported in high amounts in hydrogenated oils.”
This is one thing that is constantly overlooked by many – pan frying vegetable oils can turn even olive oil from a generally healthy oil to an artery’s worst nightmare. Urban chinese do a lot of pan frying and deep frying, whereas rural chinese do not (as evidenced by their respective oil consumption).
So yeah, there is a lot that is probably going on there, but it is clear that there is some correlation to wheat, and a strong one, and climate alone just doesn’t make any sense.
Jeff W. these are all interesting observations. I personally don’t believe that a single variable in diet like wheat by itself accounts for heart desease in China. In fact, I think it may be a complex combination of diet and other customs and climate that comes together to give an outcome.
For example, suppose people in the cold wheat growing region eat wheat and meat in combination in the winter and don’t excercise as much as people in the South because it’s so cold. They also use more vegetable oil. This is almost the McDonalds Supersize me diet. In contrast the people in the South eat vegetables with meat with more rice and less wheat year around and are active and get lots of Vitamin D from sun, etc etc.
In fact there may be more than one combination that is protective. Maybe a vegetarian lowfat works for some people and a highfat low carb diet with meat works for others at the same time. Maybe this is why so many studies contradict each other. Maybe there in no singular thing that is bad. Maybe it is only certain combinations that are bad and good and maybe some of them are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Maybe it’s almost impossible using traditional thinking and statistics to figure out what these combinations are.
Depends on your definition of “works”. If you mean as healthy as could be then one diet type (with minor variations) will win out unless it turns out that we are not all one species.
What do you mean by traditional thinking?
Statistics is only a tool for measurment. What you might mean is that observational studies (i.e the China Study) are useless for drawing conclusions. Every statistician (or good statistics student) could tell you this.
Experimental studies (where all confounding variables than can be controlled for are controlled for) are the only valid way to draw conclusions.
” one diet type (with minor variations) will win out unless it turns out that we are not all one species. ”
I disagree strongly. Some specific foods are ok for some and poison for others. We have lots of genetic variation within our species.In addition,each sex has different chemistry. Also people of different ages may have different needs.
“What do you mean by traditional thinking?”
Assuming that everyone reacts the same to foods and that food groups are good or bad in an absolute sense. The way foods are prepared and combined may be critical for good health and it may vary by individual. My point was that some combinations of food may be healthy for different groups of people and that some combinations that are different than others with different food groups may be healthy at the same time. It’s very difficult to pick this out with statistics especially if one assumes that everything is black or white.
“For example, suppose people in the cold wheat growing region eat wheat and meat in combination in the winter and don’t excercise as much as people in the South because it’s so cold. They also use more vegetable oil. This is almost the McDonalds Supersize me diet.”
Nope, not even close. The McDonald’s diet from the movie consisted of primarily hamburgers (buns made from refined flour), fries (deep fried), gallons of carbonated drinks (loads of sugar) and sauces with god-knows-what number of chemicals in them and other assorted “food” items like McNuggets. You’re kidding yourself if you think the Northern Chinese diets are anything at all like the Supersize Me diet.
I hear that in some places critiques address the issue at hand.
It’s also curious that all the vegeangelists seem to have to say are personal attacks and that apparently the China study which they say proves many things is irrelevant because other research proves their hypothesis anyway. Umm, no it doesn’t. Supposing that the China Study book is an accurate representation of the data (bwhahahaha) it would be the anomaly in the literature. Save for processed meats and high omega 6 meats, but I could have told them that. We don’t need to be using epidemiology at all but it is a nice tool.
“Denise,” I think that you should legally change your name to “Denise Minger” with the quotation marks. It is catchy.
Wheat is very powerful indeed, and they insist bread is healthy. I know this is unadjusted data, but there is other (causal) evidence too. Here is my wheat analysis:
Thanks again, Denise (a.k.a., Minger Scam, Inc.). Your critics are hilarious! I love how they try to discredit you by focusing on your gender, your beauty, and your youth. I’m actually a little bit embarrassed for them.
I just don’t get the “hate-filled” remark. You are so gracious to all.
Since when has dissent or disagreement beacome hate?
Common way to discredit the person when you can’t discredit the message. Just say they are hate filled or “Hitler”. Its a “black hole” logic. Very dangerous. Even thinking about it and your one step closer to being sucked in…. Best to consider it irrelevant and ignore it.
When you attack a person’s religion (facts are a killer to religionists) you are bound to receive feedback of the type that has been directed at Denise. They also tend to throw around the word “hate” a lot. As an atheist I see this all the time. Denise committed the unforgivable sin of questioning the vegan demi-god TCC. She will surely rot in hell for that. 😉
When looking at wheat in India one has to take into account that a large part of India’s wheat consumption is of a low gluten strain ( Nap Hal). Apparently this strain is more suitable for making chapattis and other Indians delights. This has come to light in the wake of an attempt by Monsanto to obtain a patent on a low gluten strain which is based on the Indian strain. The Indians claim Monsanto was engaging in biopiracy and sued them accordingly. http://www.purefood.org/Patent/monsanto_biopirates.cfm
seitan — mmmmmmmmmm
Noodles vs. yeast breads: might explain how the French can have their paradox while the Chinese get heart disease from wheat.
Then again, it could simply be racial. The northern Chinese: they stay tan in the winter. OK, if on a meat eating diet. Not so good with plant based diet. Meanwhile, in Northern Europe, they be bleached in order to get some D.
@ Minger Scam Inc. 😉
Some people still think this way…
“Women know your limits” 😀
I know you don’t vacuum in stilettos. But I was kind of hoping you did your regression analyses in them.
One thing to be careful with, when using data with multiple data points per county (e.g., almost all of the data, and particularly the quest. data), is that this reduces the variance in the sample. In a way that one cannot control for.
The problem is not as much with the regression coefficients, which are not too sensitive to variance reduction, but with the P values. They may be a lot lower than they actually are, due to this variance reduction effect.
The problem is same county answers may be strongly correlated. One way to get around this is to use only two data points per county, for men and women, and control for the effect of the variable “sex”.
Another would be to create new columns in the data table, with different data points per county as separate columns. Then do a factor analysis to make sure that “load” properly, and obtain one single measure from them, for each county. A weighted average would be the ideal.
Having said that, I like the graphs on this post. The give us a good idea of what is going on, without any complicated statistics.
Interesting that smoking does not seem to be a main factor. As I expected, the “demon” LDL particles don’t seem to be a main factor either (apo B and non-HDL chol. measures).
Campbell pooled the blood samples in his study in order to test for everything he wanted to test for, so it is impossible to control for things like sex and age.
You can pretty much only control for counties with China Study data.
In fact, according to the criteria set forth by the epidemilogist on 30bananas, Dr. Campbell conducted a pretty useless study. There is simply no way to control for many factors that have been shown in the past to be relevant (like sex and age in particular).
For example, what if in one of the high CHD counties the men were the only ones who consumed animal products, but the women were the only ones who got heart disease? That’s a pretty ridiculous example, but there is no way of knowing with the China Study, because Campbell pooled the blood for each community.
Really, you can’t prove anything with it, yet wheat in particular stands out like a sore thumb in spite of everything.
I should say, it’s impossible to control for sex and age while including a lot of confounding factors, like various diseases, and you would have to drop the things like cholesterol levels and triglycerides and such.
Basically, you’d be stuck with a generic diet survey to get your data from.
See this post, where the effect of sex is controlled for:
For other posts, several of which employ controls, see here:
The example you first gave wasn’t a very good one, as he didn’t need any of the blood test data, but there is one in there where he controls for sex and cholesterol, so I’m probably wrong about how Campbell pooled the blood. If that’s the case then controlling for sex is definitely fair game, obviously.
The group with the lowest heart attack deaths actually ate very little animal products, fat. and cholesterol. Granted, they are eating more animal than the first high heart attack group but both groups are very low fat in my opinion. Its just that the first group is freakishly low making the headline appear like good study spin.
In my opinion, this is not good news if one is chowing down on alot of sat fat, meat, milk and eggs. The group that fared better basically meets Ornish guidelines for sat fat.
I eat alot of sat fat so this study by Denise is concerning to me.
“I eat alot of sat fat so this study by Denise is concerning to me.”
Fruitarians, do none of you have lives?
Really? Do I need to point out the group eating even less sat fat had the highest heart disease?
Apparently so, but it won’t help someone who has no concept of how statistics work.
–> I am not a “private blogger,” but rather, “very likely a large scale underground defamation campaign<–
but you look so petite ?? 🙂
look forward to reading
Below are averages for all available counties in the China Project, showing a trend of lifestyle changes in relations to mortality from ischemic heart disease over a period of time.
Ischemic heart disease morality disease age 35-69 (stand. Rate/100,000) in 1973-5, and 1986-8 respectively:
Plasma TOTAL CHOLESTEROL (mg/dL) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
Plasma HIGH DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN CHOLESTEROL (mg/dL) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
ANIMAL PROTEIN INTAKE (g/day/reference man) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
SATURATED FATTY ACID INTAKE (g/day/reference man) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
PERCENTAGE WHO CURRENTLY SMOKE (and have done so daily for more than 6 months) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
Note: When data was not available for certain counties in one data set, the data for these counties were removed from the other data set. This was a rush job and is a very simple analysis, and is prone to a small amount of error. Perhaps someone with more spare time can add to this. Statistics collected: http://www.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/~china/monograph/chdata.htm
I do not believe that Ms. Minger and other critiques have adequate evidence to refute the conclusions from the health authorities around the world which are based on tens of thousands of studies published over the last 50 years.
I hope that critiques would stop using statistics from a single point in time, and instead compare the trends between the different data sets. Lifestyle can change overnight whereas rates of disease do not. I also hope that critiques start pointing out to their readers that the mortality data they are using was collected up to a decade before the data on lifestyle was collected, and therefore has limitations.
Though I may not agree with everything Dr. Campbell says, at least he attempts to compare the trends over time, rather than just focusing on a single static point in time.
Below are some more averages for all available counties in the China Project.
ALL VASCULAR DISEASE AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/1,000) in 1973-5, and 1986-8 respectively:
ALL MALIGNANT NEOPLASMS [cancer] AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/1,000) in 1973-5, and 1986-8 respectively:
MEAT INTAKE (red meat and poultry) (g/day/reference man, as-consumed basis) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
EGG INTAKE (g/day/reference man, as-consumed basis) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
CHOLESTEROL INTAKE (mg/day/reference man) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
DAILY CONSUMPTION OF WHEAT (g/day air-dry basis) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
WHEAT FLOUR INTAKE (g/day/reference man, air-dry basis) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
FRUIT INTAKE (g/day/reference man, fresh weight) in 1983, and 1989 respectively:
Neither [mainly white] wheat nor meat is neat?
Note: ALL VASCULAR DISEASE AGE and ALL MALIGNANT NEOPLASMS was data for mortality rates.
Mortality CEREBROVASCULAR DISEASE [stroke] AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/100,000) in 1973-5, and 1986-8 respectively:
Have fun filling in the rest of the data.
First of all — correlation isn’t causation. 😉
Thanks for posting this. This type of comparison is generally most useful if you’re looking at changes within each county rather than averages for all counties combined. For instance, both heart disease and saturated fat intake may have risen collectively between the first and second survey, but it’s possible that heart disease rates increased in some counties while saturated fat increased in different counties. Even if the two variables possessed no relationship within counties, there would be an upward trend for both in the aggregate.
If you’re interested in looking at this further, try plotting the food variable from the China Study I data, the food variable from the China Study II data, the mortality variable from the China Study I data, and the mortality variable from the China Study II data and seeing if they generally increase or decrease at the county level. If you can pick out a pattern here, that may be worth noting.
One caveat: since the second survey includes more effects of industrialization, it’s subject to more confounding, especially from things that weren’t measured (changes in activity level, industrial pollution, etc.). If a trend between a specific food and mortality variable wasn’t evident within the China Study I data, there’s a good chance differences between CS I and CS II would could be a result of confounding. What’s most compelling is a trend that exists within each data set AND between the data sets, such as wheat consumption and heart disease.
If you get a chance, could you post the change in vegetable oil intake as well? I’m curious about that one.
Here’s what I mean about comparing within-county changes versus averaged changes.
This is a graph plotting the per-county changes in meat intake (China Study I versus China Study II) against the per-county changes in IHD mortality. Note where the zero line is, as some counties experienced a reduction in IHD mortality despite eating more meat, and a number of counties experienced a rise in IHD mortality despite eating less meat.
More importantly, the actual correlation between changes in meat intake and changes in IHD mortality is -0.05 — not statistically significant, but inverse rather than positive.
Also, feel free to email me (deniseminger at gmail.com) if you want to see the data I used — I’m having trouble uploading the Excel document right now, but I can email it as an attachment.
And in case that graph is confusing, here’s an example of how to read it:
Scroll to county #13 (on the horizontal axis) and note where zero is. Between China Study I and China Study II, meat consumption decreased by about 55g per day, while heart disease mortality rose by 20 per 100,000 deaths.
Or for county 47, meat consumption decreased by about 8g per day, while heart disease mortality rose by 100 per 100,000 deaths.
Or for county 37, meat consumption increased by about 20g per day, while heart disease mortality decreased by about 5 per 100,000 deaths.
So on and so forth. At the county level, there’s no overriding relationship between the changes in these two variables, except perhaps a slight inverse one (-0.05).
Keep in mind that one of the limitations of the data from the China Project, is that only mortality rates, not incident rates of diseases are recorded. There have been huge medical breakthroughs over the last several decades that have helped decrease mortality rates from many disease including heart disease, and in nations like the U.S., there has been a staggering decrease in mortality from heart disease since the 1950s – in spite of the fact that incident rate of heart disease has maintained stable. On the other hand, intake of processed food including trans fat and simple sugars have increased several fold since the 1950s in developed nations. We however cannot conclude that these foods are heart healthy just because mortality from heart disease decreased simultaneously.
Since the reform in China in 1978, China’s GDP has grown at a rate of 9.5% per year and food prices dropped nearly 50%. Therefore we would expect to see a significantly greater difference between mortality rate and incident rate from various diseases in 1986-8 than compared to in 1973-5. It is very possible that a change in dietary factors between the periods of 1983 and 1989 may increase the incident rate of certain deceases, even when relationship between morality rate from these diseases are not statistically significant with mortality statistics from 1973-5 and 1986-8. The statistics you have graphed are also independent of other risk factors such as cigarette smoking, income, etc. etc.
Click to access 2009_ChartBook.pdf
She just showed that your simple analysis was not sufficient to make the claim that increased animal products over time are correlated to increased heart disease. You are the one making that claim. The “limitations in the data” are kind of irrelevant in shooting down your analysis.
A critique is not a person.
Ahh appeal to authority…hasn’t that decomposing rhetorical horse been ground to dust yet?
And ten of thousands of studies? Show me 10 that prove meat causes cancer or heart disease.
Regarding Betty Bananas, I think “God” has a new gig.
I laughed so hard I lost weight.
Trends for PD, NC, PA, NB, NA respectively (counties with lowest ischemic heart disease)
Mortality ALL MALIGNANT NEOPLASMS [cancer] AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/1,000)
1973-5: 2.17, 1.9, 1.27, 1.3, 1.84
1986-8 2.92, 1.81, 2.04, 1.16, 2.31
Ischemic heart disease morality disease age 35-69 (stand. Rate/100,000)
1973-5: n/a, 4.87, n/a, 4.91, 8.93.
1986-8: 1.5, 10.73, 10.9, 12.86, 14.98
Mortality CEREBROVASCULAR DISEASE AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/100,000)
1973-5: n/a, 158.58, n/a, 105.19, 123.28
1986-8: 156.51, 211.34, 140.47, 104.28, 260.03
Mortality DIABETES AGE 35-69 (stand. rate/100,000)
1973-5: n/a, 4.26, n/a, 2.27, 3.32
1986-8: 0.89, 12.32, 2.49, 3.62, 6.22
TOTAL CHOLESTEROL (mg/dL)
1983: 128, 107, 127, 112, 114
1989: 155, 144, 150, 149, 143
HIGH DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN CHOLESTEROL (mg/dL)
1983: 40.8, 33.3, 42.7, 43.1, 31.1
1989: 48.3, 45.4, 41.6, 47.6, 51
CHOLESTEROL INTAKE (mg/day)
1983: 28.1, 60.6, 55.5, 68.6, 54.7
1989: 85, 140.9, 107.1, 46.4, 78.4
PERCENT OF TOTAL FATTY ACID INTAKE THAT IS SATURATED
1983: 23.6, 30.2, 28.9, 36.6, 34.2
1989: 29.6, 35.7, 31, 25, 34.6
SATURATED FATTY ACID INTAKE (g/day)
1983: 8.97, 31.08, 13.34, 23, 14.59
1989: 17.02, 20.04, 12.83, 13.23, 22.98
PERCENTAGE OF CALORIC INTAKE FROM ANIMAL PROTEIN
1983: 0.6, 0.8, 0.8, 0.8, 0.6.
1989: 1.7, 1.8, 1.7, 0.6, 1.2
ANIMAL PROTEIN INTAKE (g/day)
1983: 2.9, 5.4, 4.8, 6, 3.9
1989: 8.9, 11, 9.7, 4.5, 7.9
MEAT INTAKE (red meat and poultry) (g/day)
1983: 17, 26.8, 32, 38.9, 6.1
1989: 48.1, 47.5, 52.3, 34, 50.2
TOTAL SODIUM INTAKE (including added salt)
1983: 7.74, 7.77, 5.11, 14.33, 10.1
1989: 5.79, 9.41, n/a, 9.41, 9.81
NEUTRAL DETERGENT FIBRE INTAKE (g/day)
1983: 8.1, 10.4, 7.1, 9.4, 9.9
1989: 5.3, 6, 5.8, 9.1, 7.7
CONSUMPTION OF WHEAT (g/day air-dry basis)
1983: 0, 7.1, 0, 16.5, 0.9
1989: 9.5, 13.1, 8.2, 10.4, 11.6
WHEAT FLOUR INTAKE (g/day, air-dry basis)
1983: 4.2, 1.3, 6.7, 5.8, 6.2
1989: 7.8, 15.6, 12.2, 4.8, 6
PROCESSED STARCH AND SUGAR INTAKE (g/day)
1983: 0.2, 1.8, 0.5, 0, 0
1989: 0.3, 3.9, 0, 0.2, 0
TOTAL CURRENT DAILY CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL (g per person)
1983: 18.1, 12.9, 11.6, 2.9, 13.1
1989: 8.1, 16.3, 2.9, 15.5, 8.6
PERCENTAGE WHO CURRENTLY SMOKE (and have done so daily for more than 6 months)
1983: 36.8, 37.4, 53.5, 46, 29.9
1989: 42.6, 33.3, 52.5, 47, 34.2
CAPITA ANNUAL INCOME (Yuan)
1983: 555.1, 485.2, 536.9, 409.4, 461.9
1989: 517, 360, 491, 765.5, 487
This data set appears to be pointing in the direction that the traditional Chinese whole-food plant based diet provides protection against various ‘Western diseases’, and that even small increases of animal food and refined food may be associated with an increase of various ‘Western diseases’. Further assessments are required to confirm this hypothesis.
The China Study critics constantly attempt to downplay Dr. Campbell’s references, including Caldwell Essylsten M.D., and Dean Ornish M.D., heart disease reversal studies, despite being unable to cite any studies where patients have consumed moderate to large amounts of animal products and have produced similar [unadjusted] results, measured by the actual underlying disease and not just risk factors such as cholesterol. These critics also fail to recognize the existence of one of Dr. Essylsten’s patients that reversed heart disease simply by modifying their diet to a whole-food plant based one, without any other significant lifestyle changes. This patient was also described in pages 127 and 128 of the China Study together with a before and after diagram of an angiogram x-ray showing reversal of disease, which takes up nearly an entire page. The diagram obviously was not large enough as critics always conveniently omit it from their reviews.
When referring to the short-lived primitive populations such as the Masai and Inuit, the critics fail to cite several studies, including the study on the autopsy results of 50 Masai men aorta and hearts in the 1960s. The researchers found that Masai men develop severe atherosclerosis at a younger age than typically seen in the West, men who consume more or less a diet based around meat and dairy. The critics also fail to cite Dr Zimmerman’s studies on Eskimo mummies, including pre-European contact Eskimos that had severe atherosclerosis. These ancient Eskimo experienced severe osteoporosis even before the age of 30. Dr. Zimmerman however confuses the diet of the Egyptian mummies, who were upper class priests with the plant-based diets typically consumed by the lower class Egyptians. A recent study published in the Lancet explained the differences between atherosclerosis in the upper and lower class populations of ancient Egypt. Researchers have known for over 40 years exactly what type of diets cause and reverse atherosclerosis in non-human primates.
Studies on Okinawan Centenarians show that they have limited evidence of atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries, although plaque is found in the aorta. The researchers partly attributed minimal arteriosclerosis to “a plant-based diet, low in salt and fat, with monounsaturates as the principal fat.”. The U.S. National Archives points to the nutrient composition of the traditional Okinawan diet, showing that in 1949 the Okinawan’s consumed a low calorie diet high in vegetables and low in salt, with less than 4% of total calories derived from animal based foods. Also, Okinawan supercentenarians certainly do not have high serum cholesterol.
Researchers find that protective factors in primitive societies such as the Masai are associated with non-dietary factors including vigorous exercise and favorable genetics. There is no sufficient evidence that the primitive diet consumed by the Masai will promote longevity equivalent to that traditionally observed in Okinawa.
Did the researchers attribute their claim of the “plant-based diet, low in salt and fat, with monounsaturates as the principal fat” on that dietary data from 1949? Anyone living in Japan at that time would have described to you an extended period of crushing poverty and food shortages, hardly resembling the traditional Okinawan diet, which is high in pork and vegetables. The Japanese government is trying to get those who cling to the traditional Japanese diet of boiled white rice and salty condiments to eat more pork and vegetables, so they can live longer, more productive lives, as Okinawans do, rather than being bedridden with osteoporosis and stroke complications as so many elderly Japanese are.
The present paper examines the relationship of nutritional status to further life expectancy and health status in the Japanese elderly based on 3 epidemiological studies. 1. Nutrient intakes in 94 Japanese centenarians investigated between 1972 and 1973 showed a higher proportion of animal protein to total proteins than in contemporary average Japanese. 2. High intakes of milk and fats and oils had favorable effects on 10-year (1976-1986) survivorship in 422 urban residents aged 69-71. The survivors revealed a longitudinal increase in intakes of animal foods such as eggs, milk, fish and meat over the 10 years.
Yeah… nice try. The bolded part is about JAPANESE centenarians, not Okinawans. Hey, so is the 2nd part–it’s also about Japanese residents, not Okinawan centenarians.
Oddly, I find only the abstract quoted about this study, in hundreds of hits on the web. No one ever does anything more than quote the abstract, and then misrepresent what the abstract says.
No one quotes the study, or any details of the study itself.
My inference is that none of the people quoting the abstract have ever read the study. How about you–have you read it?
“the existence of one of Dr. Essylsten’s patients that reversed heart disease simply by modifying their diet to a whole-food plant based one”
One patient! I believe that is known scientifically as “anecdotal”.
And you don’t have info on what may have caused his heart disease in the first place.
If you had a guy in a perfect environment (i.e. no confounders other than diet) who ate an animal based diet and had heart disease, who then switched to a plant based and was cured of heart disease, that would be something.
Of course, you still have to define your terms. What most people consider to be an “animal based” diet is still generally 70-80% plants, and if that portion came from processed food then of course they are going to have a high risk of heart disease.
Again, one guy curing heart disease with a whole-foods plant based diet is a worthless anecdote unless you know what the actual cause of the heart disease was in the first place.
This is what makes nutritional research so hard, and why the results of such research is so often worthless.
You should never, ever make a conclusion on anything based on an epidemiological study. They should be a hypothesis generator; a basis for further research, and nothing more.
I think it’s a bit much to expect someone to thoroughly refute every aspect of an entire book in one blog post or series of blog posts. Denise has produced what has got to be the most thorough analysis of a single chapter ever produced on a blog.
That said, among China Study critics collectively there is no failure to address the studies of Ornish and Esselstyn. I addressed them in my 2007 response to Campbell:
And I have written a brief review of Esselstyn’s book:
Mann found that the Masai had some atherosclerosis, that it was least in the age groups eating animal products most exclusively, and that there was no evidence of myocardial infarction or reduction in luminal diameter. Taylor studied what were probably more isolated Masai without access to refined junk food, which Mann’s Masai had access to, and found “a paucity of atherosclerosis.”
Either way, all the evidence indicated no heart attacks.
There are some obvious problems with inferring something about the traditional Inuit diet from one “mummy” from 400 AD and a handful from the sixteenth century. We do not know what they were eating, nor the role that infection and other stressors played in their diseases. The traditional Alaskan diet is not homogenous, and indeed the natives who live inland are often subject to severe nutritional deficiencies, especially of vitamin D and calcium. This most commonly manifests as tetany in the youth and a type of hysteria called “piblotoq” in adults. I discuss this in my article “The Pursuit of Hapiness.”
Thanks for that Chris.
You’re welcome Sue. My pleasure 🙂
Scroll down to see comments in regards to the omissions and flaws of some of Mr. Masterjohns comments and articles.
Hi T Warrior,
I hope you don’t mine me addressing you in the second person. Unfortunately I don’t have time for a very extensive debate on this topic, but I will try to make a brief reply to your posts below for purposes of clarification.
Thanks for your contributions,
Meat and fat consumption in Okinawa quadrupled between the early 1960s and 1970s, resulting in Okinawa changing from a region consuming less animal products to more animal products than the average mainland Japanese. The average mainland Japanese also greatly increase the consumption of meat in the same period, but not to the extent seen in Okinawa. By the mid-70s life expectancy for Okinawa fell in relationship to mainland Japan, and by 2000 life expectancy for Okinawan men fell to 26th place among the 47 prefectures of Japan. Evidence suggests that Okinawan women will soon follow. [I] There is a “lag-time” effect as the World Health Organization refers to, where present mortality rates are the consequence of previous nutrition and lifestyle.[II] An example of this, is that the largest grouping of radiation-related cancer deaths occurred in the period from 1986 to 1990, forty to forty five years after exposure.[III] The soaring rates of colorectal cancer in Japan have been related to an increase of animal food intake.[IV]
What this study does not show is the lifetime consumption of animal food in the super elderly. It was their diet and lifestyle in early and midlife that determined longevity and an absence of chronic disease in middle age. Just because these elderly made a dietary change after becoming very old, does not mean that this change promotes longevity. It is only usually during the 1970s when such results were observed in Japan, the period shortly following a several fold increase of animal food Japan. The actual number of calories from animal food consumed would be considerably less than the average Westerner, who is actually outlived by the Japanese.
Modern Japanese centenarians consume considerably less animal products than the Japanese average and most of the rest of the developed world, and in Okinawa where the concentration of centenarians is highest in the world, they consume even less animal products, and even more beans and green vegetables than the average Japanese centenarian.[V] The significant ratio of centenarians observed in Okinawa, despite Okinawa no longer having the longest average life expectancy in Japan, maybe partly the fact that the current centenarians were already elderly during the period of change in diet and lifestyle, and were less likely to have adopted the changes made by the younger generation population.
The increases of animal products in Japan have lead to an increase of Western disease.[IV] One study even found “The risk was noted to be 8.5 times higher in women of high socioeconomic strata eating meat daily compared with women of low socioeconomic strata who do not eat meat daily, when 142,857 women aged 40 years were followed for 10 years.”[VI]
There are many limitations with the critical analysis’s of the China Study, the critics have been posting. One significant limitation is due to the fact that the critics often only use a single data set from the China Project to merely compare mortality in relationship to lifestyle differences between counties at a single static point in time, rather than comparing the two data sets to analyze trends between different points of time. The mortality data for the China Project data were collected during 1973-5 and 1986-8 whereas the lifestyle and plasma data was collected in 1983, 1989 and 1993, which poses serious limitations on an analysis from only a single set of data – considering that the statistics were taken during a great period of lifestyle changes in China.
The post-reform period from 1978 in China was accompanied by significant lifestyle changes in many Chinese counties, reflecting in significant changes in the plasma and lifestyle statistics between the 1983 and 1989 China Project data sets. Limiting data to a single data set does not reflect lifestyle changes occurring within counties, and therefore critics often end up comparing counties that have made significant changes to lifestyle only a few years prior to the collection of data with other counties that have only experienced modest amounts change. Lifestyle and plasma statistics can significantly change within the period of a few years, whereas disease usually develops at a slower rate. This helps to explain that when analyzing only a single set of data, we observe similar mortality rates from various diseases among numerous counties despite significantly different lifestyle and plasma statistics. For example, if we analyze data from only a single set of statistics from the China Project, we will observe a relative risk between smoking and lung cancer of virtually 0.
Another limitation of morality statistics to keep in mind, is that if two different populations have similar incident rates of diseases, it will inevitably be the population with a greater socioeconomic status and greater access to medication and advance treatments that will have a lower mortality rate from diseases. It is important to take this factor into account as populations with higher socioeconomic status have greater access to Western food, and therefore may have low mortality rates of diseases in spite of following a disease promoting lifestyle.
It is very important to carry out an analysis of over a period of time in order to adjust for time lag between changes in risk factors and diseases, as the following studies point out:
Click to access bmjcred00608-0020.pdf
Click to access 1471.pdf
Of course it is. But even though he admitted that, Campbell chose to design the study this way. That is how he chose to spend the money, collecting data in a way that would be difficult to analyze and impossible to follow up on.
That is hardly Denise’s fault.
I don’t see why you are saying this is a limitation of only the critics, when it applies to the study itself. This limitation also exists for every one of Campbell’s conclusions.
Below is part of an abstract from a study carried out on a Chinese population (independent of the China Project) that followed the trend of heart disease in relation to cholesterol among a population with low total cholesterol:
DESIGN–Prospective observational study based on 8-13 years of follow up of subjects in a population with low cholesterol concentrations.
SETTING–Urban Shanghai, China.
SUBJECTS–9021 Chinese men and women aged 35-64 at baseline.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE–Death from coronary heart disease and other causes.
RESULTS–…There was a strongly positive, and apparently independent, relation between serum cholesterol concentration and death from coronary heart disease (z = 3.47, p less than 0.001), and within the range of usual serum cholesterol concentration studied (3.8-4.7 mmol/l) there was no evidence of any threshold…
CONCLUSION–Blood cholesterol concentration was directly related to mortality from coronary heart disease even in those with what was, by Western standards, a “low” cholesterol concentration. There was no good evidence of an adverse effect of cholesterol on other causes of death.
Full study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1670480/pdf/bmj00138-0026.pdf
Here is part of an abstract from another study comparing Chinese populations:
We compared mortality and CHD risk factors in Singapore with two Oriental locations, Hong Kong and mainland China, which have not experienced the CHD epidemic… Measures included diet, blood lipids, blood pressure, height and weight. CHD mortality in the year chosen for comparison, 1994, was significantly higher for Singapore Chinese males [108 (95.2-119.1)] than Chinese males in Hong Kong [44.3 (40.2-48.2)] or China [45.5 (44.2-46.8)]. Female CHD mortality was also relatively higher in Singapore Chinese. The only CHD risk factor markedly higher in Singapore Chinese was serum cholesterol; Singapore males [5.65 (5.55-5.75)], females [5.60 (5.50-5.70)], Hong Kong males [5.21 (5.11-5.31)], females [5.20 (5.10-5.29)] and China males [4.54 (4.46-4.62)], females [4.49 (4.42-4.55)]. Dietary differences in saturated fat consumption were consistent with this. Although there was little difference in total fat intake, a higher consumption of dietary saturated fat and lower consumption of polyunsaturated fat, accompanied by higher serum cholesterol, appear to explain the relatively high CHD mortality in Singapore compared with Hong Kong and mainland China. Differences in body mass index, blood pressure and smoking between locations did not explain the differences in CHD mortality.
References for meta-anlysis’s linking saturated fat to elevated serum cholesterol, and elevated serum cholesterol to heart disease:
Click to access EHN%20position%20piece%20-%20sats%20meta%20analysis.pdf
Seriously, do you even take time to Read Denise’s replies to your own posts before posting again?
Hell, do you even understand what she writes?
Hell, do you even understand what she writes?
No, and they’re counting on their reader not to understand it either.
It’s just part of the vegan blogspam attack.
No, I don’t think T Warrior does, nor do I think he/she is willing to debate, as evidenced by the lack of response on their part, to anything. Par for the course, considering the ultimate source of these attacks. Anyone not willing to defend their position publicly is not worthy of the attention we’ve been giving them.
For people so absolutely convinced of their superiority, they sure are insecure in their beliefs.
Regarding the notion that some “critics” of The China Study aren’t taking into account the work done by Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish, that charge has no basis. Esselstyn has worked with only a few dozen people so far and both of their approaches prescribe a wide variety of lifestyle changes independent of diet. Neither doctor’s results can be used to make a claim for diet-only interventions producing certain results independent of their total programs.
Also as has been noted, while both doctors put their patients on (an essentially) low-fat, vegan diet, it cannot be said that it is the elimination of animal products alone that produces these reversals in heart disease. Patients on both programs also eliminate most processed foods, lower their sodium intakes, lower their simple sugar intakes, cease or reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, etc. There are simply too many variables at work to make any definitive conclusions, except to note their success in taking many people from extreme sickness to relatively good health. Exactly how that is happening has yet to be determined.
I have a suggestion for you: that saturated fat is actually a marker for heme iron, and it’s the iron that causes the damage, not the saturated fat or the ‘animal protein’.
The link between iron intake and heart disease is controversial, because some studies show it and some don’t. It has been argued that it’s FREE iron, not iron per se, that’s important.
So how do you get an increase in free iron? It shouldn’t happen, because iron induces synthesis of the iron storage protein ferritin. However, it seems that iron loading on to ferritin requires copper, like other aspects of iron metabolism. So copper deficiency might increase intracellular free iron.
Copper deficiency causes heart disease:
Both white flour and white rice have had most of their copper removed, so both have the potential to increase intracellular free iron. However, white flour in China has twice as much iron as white rice, according to Chinese researcher Zumin Shi, who has found a link between iron intake and diabetes. He has also found a link between white flour and obesity.
I am thinking that the higher iron content might explain why white flour and not white rice is associated with heart disease in China.
Excess iron increases the requirement for manganese, which protects mitochondria (and much else) from iron-induced oxidative stress. White flour has had nearly all its manganese removed.
If I’m not mistaken, were we not consuming far more wheat – primarily white flour – in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, before the diabesity epidemic reared its ugly head here in America?
This is a 5 minutes before bedtime post, but if you insist I can dig up a reference on that tomorrow. As unprofessional as this sounds, Stephan at Whole Health Source as mentioned that fact in his own discussions on wheat, and he seems to be a scrupulous researcher.
Anyhow, if that is the case, how we can we reconcile that with these wheat-heart disease associations you’ve unearthed from Campbell’s data?
I don’t know what scientific diet surveys may exist from that time period, but I can say that from my knowledge of period cookbooks, it would appear people ate a lot less wheat, at least those who could afford other food. Even poor people ate lots of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, which were cheap and nutritious.
Breakfast: fatty meat, eggs, potatoes, fruit, bread
Lunch: fatty meat, vegetables, bread
Supper: fatty meat or fish, vegetables, salad, bread, dessert
Wheat was never the meal, as it so often is nowadays. Sandwiches, pasta, pizza, etc so often are now the centerpiece of the meal. Housewives prided themselves in cooking hearty meals, which included giant fatty roasts and multiple vegetables. Pasta, tomato sauce, and bread would not have been considered a real meal.
Diabetes and Obesity are just the two most prevalent diseases of contemporary society. Prior to the big rise in obesity and dentistry a lot of Europeans weren’t very healthy anyway. They had dental problems, were often skinny fat and were short.
It only took a generation or two for the male settlers in Australia to grow to be six inches to a foot taller than those who came out from England.
It is also worth noting that the current generation of Americans may be the first who do not end up taller than their parents.
As far as I know, you’re correct — wheat consumption started falling after the turn of the century and then started rising again in the 1960s or so. There’s some good info here, including a graph of consumption trends:
Anyhow, if that is the case, how we can we reconcile that with these wheat-heart disease associations you’ve unearthed from Campbell’s data?
A few thoughts:
The wheat we eat today is a whole different beast than the stuff we ate before the 1940s, when the Green Revolution started — after which wheat started undergoing tons of breeding to make it higher yielding. For the diseases wheat is usually implicated with, older strains don’t seem to be as problematic as modern ones (for instance, here’s a study showing that wheat breeding may have contributed to increased prevalence of celiac disease). So a significant connection between wheat and heart disease, if there is one, might be a more recent phenomena.
Also, even if something in wheat does turn out to be atherogenic, it’s definitely not the only food implicated in heart disease — and probably isn’t even the worst offender. In the USA, I wouldn’t expect heart disease rates to echo wheat intake because the post-19th-century decline in flour coincided with an increase in sugar, vegetable oils, processed foods, etc. that probably were collectively worse than wheat itself. From the .gov link above:
“After 1920, the substitution of wheat flour for cornmeal slowed, but per capita wheat flour consumption continued to drop. Part of the reason was a decrease in total per capita food requirements as fewer people engaged in heavy physical labor. Another factor was further substitution of sugar for flour in the diet.”
In the China Study, the counties studied were consuming mostly unprocessed foods and little to no refined sugar, so the effects of wheat wouldn’t be overshadowed by those things.
Additionally, in the USA, it’s hard to tease out the effects of wheat with epidemiological studies because virtually everyone here consumes it. There are no equally matched”wheat free” populations to compare against the rest of the nation. The nice thing about the China Study is that there were clearly defined regions that used wheat versus rice as the staple grain, and enough data to account for likely sources of confounding. With other population studies, America and elsewhere, it’s usually impossible to untangle wheat from the mess of other diet variables.
Again, wheat-free regions in india have much higher atherosclerosis than wheat-consuming regions (7 times greater in one study). Of course, there are other regional differences other than wheat consumption that likely account for this difference, but same is likely to be true in China. Also, the attack on vegetable oils has very little basis – sure, vegetable oils have some negative effects, but they also have some positive effects (as do all foods). The preponderance of epidemiological studies show a strong inverse association between vegetable oil consumption (as long as it is non-hydrogenated) and heart disease. And, of course, correlation is not *equal* to causation, it’s a clue like everything else — if vegetable oil were nearly as bad as villified, one would not expect to see such strong inverse associations with heart disease. In any case, I think you did a phenomenal job pointing out flaws in Campbell’s analysis.
The problem with seed oils is not their impact on cardio-vascular diseases, they look protective and that’s what has always been promoted, but their impact on cancer. This cancer promoting property is downplayed.
You say in the “Wheat Oh My” article that in China “heart disease isn’t associated with eating more sugar, working in industry, drinking more alcohol, using vegetable oils, …”. It seems plausible that wheat plays the same starring role in USA.
In the USA, celiac disease is doubling every 15 years (Daily Diet: Increase in Incidence of Celiac Disease). I suggest the doubling is due to (1) increasing consumption since 1977, (2) new wheat strains, (3) fast-made bread (Bread Dread: Are you Really Gluten Intolerant), and (4) migration to “healthy” whole grains (Wheat surpasses white in sliced bread sales and Negative Implications: Rethink the Role of Dietary Fiber). [The latter two, you may have overlooked.]
Celiac disease is just one (relatively rare) manifestation of gluten sensitivity, and a large fraction of the population is gluten sensitive. We can assume inflammation is increasing in that population, and thus heart disease, too. So, wheat alone could easily explain the heart disease epidemic in the USA.
Regarding Roberto’s paradox, the factors that are causing the celiac disease epidemic were not in play, and bread was probably healthy in the 1800’s and early 1900’s (or at least not causing heart disease). Likely, properly fermenting bread also partly explains the French Paradox, too (Scientific work as part of the French paradox has focused on Bread).
Per Heart disease on the rise in India – CNN, many Indians “are at risk of heart disease because of a genetic mutation that affects one in 25 people in India.” Also, wheat is dangerous or not depending on its preparation.
Jeff W. cited evidence above that wheat consumption is inversely associated with millet consumption in India. Millet is the most throid-toxic food in the food supply. Traditionally dehulled, soaked, fermented, cooked millet is extremely goitrogenic when used as a staple food. In the Sudan, regions that eat the most millet have rampant goiter and regions that eat wheat and sorghum have very little goiter. Since thyroid hormone is king of all endogenous protectors against heart disease, I have little doubt that consumption of high quantities of millet would promote heart disease.
I cover the goitrogenic properties of millet in my thyroid toxins report. It’s not free, but all the most important stuff is in the abstract, which is free here:
I think Denise has made it clear that her objective with the wheat post is to show that there is a strong correlation in the China Study data set that has enough biological plausibility to pursue, not that wheat universally causes heart disease in everyone, nor that the correlation proves it causes heart disease in the China Study’s populations.
Correlations do not imply causation — this statement means, just as strongly, that lack of correlations do not imply lack of causation and that opposite correlations do not imply a hypothesis is false. They are simply observations that can be used to develop a hypothesis that can the be tested experimentally. I cover some of the problems with inferring causation from observation studies here, with a little humor: http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2010/09/new-study-shows-that-lying-about-your.html In this population, the problem is that the medical establishment has been promoting vegetable oils for 49 years. The people who consume them are the health-conscious people. No matter how many variables associated with “health consciousness” you try to adjust for, you can never adjust for all the variables. Believing one has done this means believing that most of what can be known is known — this will always be a very arrogant assumption at any point in history.
Numerous randomized, controlled trials tested the substitution of vegetable oils for animal fats. These trials indicate that vegetable oils probably cause heart disease and almost certainly cause cancer. I describe them very briefly in my “Precious Yet Perilous” article, and will describe them in much more detail in my upcoming PUFA Report Part II. Here’s the former:
Somewhere between 40 million and 100 million Americans also have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, first discovered in 1980 and first discovered in children in 1983. Animal experiments show that vegetable oils cause fatty liver:
Nutrient content of US food 1909-2000 – http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/foodsupply/FoodSupply1909-2000.pdf (see grains on page 17 and carbs on page 21)
US nutrient availability 1909-2004 (Excel data) – http://ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodConsumption/spreadsheets/nutrients07.xls
The US grain consumption landscape – http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR50/ERR50.pdf
US Wheat Yearbook 2008 – http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/ers/WHS-yearbook//2010s/2010/WHS-yearbook-01-05-2010.pdf (see wheat flour on page 6)
FAOSTAT consumption/crops – http://faostat.fao.org/site/609/DesktopDefault.aspx
Great thoughts, Denise. Abomination of wheat started a little earlier than 1940, even though it may have accelerated after that. Circa 1900-1950 it was bleached with nitrogen trichloride. This was abandoned in the US and UK becuase it lead to “canine hysteria” in dogs and there was worry it might cause mental disorders in humans. Canada abandoned it because it was explosive and an extreme danger to the mill workers.
About older strains of wheat not being as bad as modern ones. Do you remember the Iranian teenagers found in the 1970s to have short stature and late puberty on account of eating wholemeal wheat bread? The problems were corrected by zinc supplementation, and ever since then people have believed that wholemeal bread is bad for you because it gives you zinc deficiency.
Well I read a few years ago, and I can’t find the article now, that the Iranian case was related to the Green Revolution. Iranian farmers were trying to grow modern high-yielding varieties on mineral-poor soil. Their traditional varieties did not cause problems. And even the new varieties did not cause problems if the bread was leavened.
I understand lots of Americans believe they have zinc deficiency. I don’t see how they can have zinc deficiency, because they do not have short stature or late puberty. In fact they have early puberty. I think it far more likely that Klevay is right and they actually have copper deficiency.
Lots of perfectly healthy Americans believe they have all sorts of deficiencies, none of which have any symptoms, but which need to be treated by buying lots of supplements.
Even people suffering symptoms of malnourishment on obviously deficient diets will decide what they need is vitamins, not healthy food.
Eat a balanced diet of whole foods? Never! Impossible!
I was raised by a mother who fed us carefully chosen vitamin, mineral, and other supplements by the handful. She still does take them. She’s probably in denial about the evidence that shows they are somewhere between useless and harmful. I don’t touch them anymore. If I had the money she’s wasted on them over the years I could retire comfortably.
I’d prefer genetic optimism over mere disease prevention any day.
While I’m on the subject of zinc, you might like to see this new paper on Alzheimer’s. It’s pretty sensational, because the authors have found a function for the hitherto mysterious Alzheimer Precursor Protein: it exports iron out of cells. And it’s poisoned by zinc.
What do you think about this:
The author suggests that too much copper and or is bad and that we should take more zinc to protect ourselves.
Hi A, thanks for your question, it was just what I wanted.
The paper you linked says this:
‘A very disturbing study has found that in the general population those in the highest fifth of copper intake, if they are also eating a relatively high fat diet, lose cognition at over three times the normal rate.’
This ‘very disturbing study’ is actually very peculiar indeed. The people in the highest fifth of copper intake actually had a ‘global cognitive score’ six times HIGHER than the lowest fifth. The figures for the five quintiles are 5, 15, 19, 19 and 34.
Have a look, it’s in Table 1:
Click to access copper%20article.pdf
Now, if copper is as GOOD for the brain as this table says (I emailed the author in 2007 and she confirmed that these data are correct), how on earth can a high copper intake mean FASTER cognitive decline, just for being associated with a high fat intake? It makes no sense. And in any case, how can a high copper intake be associated with a high saturated/transfat intake? People eating a lot of saturated fat and transfats are living on MacDonalds and donuts, and have a low copper intake.
I emailed the author of the paper you linked about a year ago, and tried to tell him about the questions this study raises. He did not reply.
In 2007 a very senior Alzheimer researcher told me he had emailed the author of the copper study pointing out the same things I did, but like me he got nowhere.
I almost want to use the word conspiracy here. There are many, many papers blaming copper toxicity for various ailments where it’s clear copper has nothing to do with it. Serum copper rises during inflammatory states, so inflammatory disease correlates with serum copper. But it’s trying to help, not causing the disease. Copper is needed for tissue repair.
Jane, thank you for the exlanation. It’s not clear to me how the researchers adjustments got him from that data in table one to such a different outcome. Are there any blogs or references to this copper/zinc/iron chemistry that one should look at if they are interested in learning more on this topic?
Also, I am interested in hearing what role you think Chlorophyll may play in blocking the advese effects of heme iron.
Click to access 717.full.pdf
Is it possible that some of the protective effects of green leafy vegetables that we see in the research are because of their Chlorophyll content.
Try this, it’s a short summary of Leslie Klevay’s work with a list of his papers. He was the one who proposed many years ago that the zinc-copper ratio is very important in heart disease. He says even a small amount of extra zinc can cause problems by inhibiting copper uptake and/or utilisation. He even says that the dreaded phytate is GOOD, because it binds zinc better than it binds copper, so it prevents zinc overload and copper deficiency.
Thanks for the chlorophyll link. Interesting that it prevents heme toxicity. I understand it has to physically interact with heme in the gut, which means you’d have to eat heme and (a lot of) chlorophyll together. Sorry I can’t tell you more.
Re: ibuprofen and weight training. Richard Nikoley forwarded me Chris Masterjohn’s response to a question on it and this is what I wrote.
“He cites a study from 2002. The consensus has changed since then. I discussed the most recent study here: http://www.leangains.com/2010/07/do-raspberries-stunt-muscle-growth-and.html
Ecc. training is a different animal also. For example, ecc. training induces insulin resistance while traditional conc training has the opposite effect.
Also, note the difference in dose: 400 mg (reasonable dose) in the latter study & 1200 mg (very high dose) in the 2002 study.”
Just thought I’d share that real quick.
Are you referring to the “juicing with aspirin” entry? If so, when someone cited that study earlier I did not see any mention of protein synthesis or muscle recovery, and you don’t indicate in your description that you saw any such measurements either. Sure, the dose was different, but you can’t make a conclusion about protein synthesis based on changes in bone mineral density.
Mr. Masterjohns review of Dr. Essylsten’s studies contains many critical omissions. Probably the most serious omission is not mentioning the fact that the adherent patients had 49 coronary events leading up to the study and 0 coronary events while being compliant up to and beyond 12 years after committing to the study. The majority of patients (17) were following Dr. Essysltens recommended diet at 12 years of the study and many still follow the diet today, even after a quarter of a century. The 5 patients who returned to standard care experienced 13 coronary events by the time of the 12 year follow-up, even though they remained in standard care where they were very likely to have been prescribed medication. This information together the additional patient who was included in the 16 year follow-up study that reversed their heart disease without medication, strongly implies that the dietary changes had the greatest effect on the regression of heart disease in this study. All patients adhering to the recommendations either arrested or reversed coronary artery disease, a result that has never been repeated in any other study using medication.[9-10]
In Dr. Ornish’s study, the control group experienced a worsening of disease despite following recommendations set by standard care and doing moderate amounts of exercise. However, the experimental group that consumed a plant based diet and exercised more had far fewer coronary events and the majority of participants either arrested or reversed their heart disease. The fact that several patients were unable to exercise without experiencing severe angina at the start of the study suggests that they may have not exercised adequately until they had already started reversing their disease. Dr. Ornish also recommended stress management, and prohibited the patients from smoking, although only 1 patient was smoking at baseline.[11-12]
There have been no studies proving that patients have revered their heart disease without medication when consuming a diet with a moderate to high intake of animal foods, regardless of lifestyle changes made.
Dr. Ornish has also published studies where patients following his guidelines were able to inhibit growth of their prostate cancer.
Many critics claim that Dr. Essylsten and Dr. Ornish had the patients in their heart studies eliminate all refined carbohydrates from their diets. However, these studies began in the mid 1980’s, when these doctors were not setting guidelines that sufficiently limited refined carbohydrates.
Even Joel Fuhrman MD., has criticized these studies for this fact. On page 147 of Eat to Live, he stated that “numerous studies have documented that heart disease is reversible for the majority of patients following a vegetarian diet. Most often these diets, such as the Ornish program, are not even optimal diets, as they do not sufficiently limit processed gains, salt, and other low-nutrient-density processed foods. Nevertheless, they are still effective for most patients.”
In one of Mr. Masterjohn reviews, he cites a paper where female participants grouped in the highest quartile of saturated fat intake (10.6-16% of total calories) had an average minimal coronary artery diameter increase of 0.01mm. He failed to mention that these results were adjusted and that the actual unadjusted result was actually a DECREASE of 0.07mm over the period of 3 years, and that the progression of disease was only slightly less than participants in the second and third quartile who experienced a decrease of 0.09mm, although somewhat less than the group in the first quartile who experienced a decrease of 0.15mm. Patients in the groups consuming the least amount of saturated fat had higher rates of hypertension. The BMI in the different groups only ranged between an average of 29 to 30, which implies that the groups consuming less saturated fat may have had a higher intake of sodium, however no information in regards to micronutrient intake was described in this study. There is a strong relationship with salt and hypertension and hypertension and the worsening of atherosclerosis,[14,15] which may partly explain why the groups consuming lower amounts of saturated fat experienced such a significant worsening of disease.
However, 19% of the patients in the first quartile compared to 31% of the patients in the fourth quartile had diabetes. In other-words the group that consumed the most saturated had over 50% the rate of diabetes despite only minimal differences in BMI. The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher and heart disease death rates is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes, yet the researchers do not mention the actual number of cardiac events experienced in each group during the duration of the study!
It is very likely that the researchers made an over-adjustment for the narrowing of arteries, due to the large margin of error occurred by adjusting for a significant number of factors made by the researchers. One significant flaw in this study was the fact the researchers adjusted for diabetes, despite the fact that both the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization [FAO/WHO], and the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] have found a positive association between saturated fat and a increase risk of type 2 diabetes in their reviews of the medical literature.[17-18] FAO/WHO specifically found “a higher risk of impaired glucose tolerance, and higher fasting glucose and insulin levels” associated with saturated fat, and “Higher proportions of saturated fatty acids in serum lipid or muscle phospholipid have been associated with higher fasting insulin, lower insulin, sensitivity and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Also, a meta-analysis of 12 cohort studies found that high total meat intake increased type 2 diabetes risk by 17% compared to low intake, whereas high red meat intake increased risk by 21%, and processed meat intake increased risk by 41%, indicating that common sources of saturated fat increase type 2 diabetes. Therefore adjusting for diabetes would deliberately biases towards finding less progression of heart disease in the groups consuming more saturated fat.
It is possible to tell by the percentage of calories from macronutrients and the amount of cholesterol, that the patients consuming the least amount of saturated fat were not following a plant based diet. Nevertheless, all quartiles experienced a worsening of heart disease and this study does not provide evidence from any quartile of a health promoting diet.
“Mr. Masterjohns review of Dr. Essylsten’s studies contains many critical omissions. Probably the most serious omission is not mentioning the fact that the adherent patients had 49 coronary events leading up to the study and 0 coronary events while being compliant up to and beyond 12 years after committing to the study.”
The review was originally published in print, so space limitations as well as concision prohibited including every detail, but I did state quite clearly that these were heart disease patients and that, in contrast to the drop-outs, they persisted without any heart attacks, although I discussed 10-year follow-up data and not >12-year.
Although I allow for the possibility that Esselstyn’s treatment was effective, and offer a scientific explanation in support of that possibility, the overwhelming point is that any attempt to draw conclusions from this study is a serious abuse of logic, the scientific method, and the concepts behind experimental design.
There are obvious differences in intrinsic motivation and life outlook between people who are willing to comply with such a massive change to their dietary habits — a change of much greater magnitude than the changes that most physicians have great difficulty getting typical patients to comply with — and patients who drop out of a study due to unwillingness to comply or try to continue complying. There are also potentially massive placebo effects of such a large change, and potential sorting effects between people with different individual biochemistries (i.e., people who do well on the diet are much more likely to continue complying). That is why it is necessary, as universally recognized among experimental scientists, to randomize people to the treatment group or the control group, and when possible, the latter should be placeb-controlled.
People who drop out of a study can absolutely not ever be treated as a “control.” This is a massive abuse of the very concept of “control.” (In fact, in most studies utilized for policy-making or potential medical treatments, it is considered a sign of quality to do an “intention to treat” analysis” where the non-compliant people are *pooled with* the compliant people, not with the controls.) Thus, while I accept that Esselstyn’s treatment may be effective, I do not accept the idea that we can draw any conclusions from his seriously flawed and uninterpretable experimental design.
“In Dr. Ornish’s study,”
Dr. Ornish’s study was multi-factorial. I accept that his program overall was effective, but his study design provides no insight whatsoever into which components of his program were effective and important to the overall result.
“There have been no studies proving that patients have revered their heart disease without medication when consuming a diet with a moderate to high intake of animal foods, regardless of lifestyle changes made.”
I also am not currently aware of randomized, controlled trials of dietary changes emphasizing animal products reducing or eliminating heart disease incidence, although there are many studies show positive benefits on risk markers. I know there are people who would like to do these studies if the funding were available. In any case, there are no such trials showing such a benefit to the specific reduction of animal products in the diet either.
Hi T Warrior,
Sorry I missed this post. That’s a good point that it is important to pay attention both to the adjusted figures and the unadjusted figures. Your post highlights the great difficulty anyone would have in deciding which variables to adjust for and which variables are in fact not confounders but intermediates in the causal pathway.
In any case, there was still a significant increase in luminal diameter with higher saturated fat intakes. Moreover, the absolute luminal diameters were significantly higher at baseline, so it’s possible the change figure is underestimating the long-term effect.
This is, of course, an observational study, and does not show cause-and-effect. There is human experimental evidence that excess PUFA contribute to heart disease, and in any case Esselstyn’s diet is extremely low in PUFA and would lead to very high levels of circulating saturated fat, since that is what happens on a low-fat, high-carb diet, where excess carbs are converted to fat.
Some of Mr. Masterjohn’s statements in regards to the Masai are not supported by the cited papers. He claims that “the degree of atherosclerosis to actually reverse itself during the ages of 12-30”, whereas the researchers actually state, “While there is a suggestion of a decrease of sudanophilia [a histologic precursor of atherosclerosis] with age from ages 10 through 30, this is not statistically supportable with the variance encountered within these age groups.”
There is no sufficient evidence that the Masai had consumed refined carbohydrates and shortening in large enough quantities for a long enough period up until the mid-1960s when these men died, nor had the purchasing power to be able to claim that the limited access to these foods caused the majority of atherosclerosis found in Masai men, who in their forties already had the degree of atherosclerosis similar to what is seen in elderly American men. The researchers found that these men consumed a diet predominately based around milk and meat and that they only had “some” access to processed food, although this access may only have came shortly before these men died in the mid 1960s.
The researcher’s finding in regards to protection from heart disease “is the compensatory increase of coronary vessel size with age resulting in a net increase of lumen size despite a tripling of intimal thickness during this time. This we attribute to high levels of exercise but we have no direct proof. There are scattered bits of experimental evidence to support this thesis”
Apart from protection from favorable genetics, staying slim and vigorous exercise, other studies have found that the Masia’s consumption of herbal plant food additives containing cholesterol lowering saponins and phenols which are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals help explain the low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the Masai. Other researchers believe that the reported intake of milk have been over-exaggerated and that low serum cholesterol may be explained by low energy intake.
In regards to the ancient Inuit diet, one thing we know is that they consumed a diet based predominately and sometimes exclusively of animal food. Many studies since the 1970s have found that Inuit populations still have virtually the poorest bone health on earth. One study found that “after age 40 the Eskimos of both sexes had a deficit of from 10 to 15% relative to [American] white standards. Aging bone loss, which occurs in many populations, has an earlier onset and greater intensity in the Eskimos.” – and American whites already exhibit some of the highest hip fracture rates in the world.
In possibly the largest study on the review of evidence from statistics and studies dating back to the 1936 in regards to the cardiovascular health of the Inuit from Greenland, Alaska and Canada, the researchers came to the following conclusion:
“The mortality from all cardiovascular diseases combined is not lower among the Inuit than in white comparison populations. If the mortality from IHD is low, it seems not to be associated with a low prevalence of general atherosclerosis. A decreasing trend in mortality from IHD [ischemic heart disease] in Inuit populations under going rapid westernization supports the need for a critical rethinking of cardiovascular epidemiology among the Inuit and the role of a marine diet in this population.”
The researchers found that “evidence for a low mortality from IHD [ischemic heart disease] among the Inuit is fragile and rests on unreliable mortality statistics. Mortality from stroke, however, is higher among the Inuit than among other western populations” 
My point about the Masai was that the degree of atherosclerosis was lowest, even if not significantly so, when they were eating the most animal products, so it is difficult to suggest that the presence of atherosclerosis is caused by the animal products in their diet. Mann’s and Taylor’s studies were observational and of course do not provide any cause-and-effect evidence. I agree that they consumed a number of plant foods that are largely ignored when people discuss their diet, as is also true of the Inuit. I also agree that the mortality rates of Inuit on their traditional diets as a function of diet is entirely inconclusive, and I have never stated otherwise. Modern Inuit eat mostly refined food and have been doing so for decades, so I do not think we can draw any conclusion about osteoporosis on traditional diets from peoples whose main source of vitamin C is Tang.
The father of epidemiology in Greenland, Bertelsen made a statement in 1940 based on years of clinical practice in Greenland and on reports of medical officers, stating that “arteriosclerosis and degeneration of the myocardium are quite common conditions among the Inuit, in particular considering the low mean age of the population.”
There is a several decade time lag difference between risk factors and heart disease, demonstrating that the diet consumed by the Inuit decades before the late Weston Price visited Greenland was likely playing a role in the promotion of heart disease, especially considering that the population in the age bracket that are subject to these diseases were older and less likely to have adopted a dietary change.
An interesting finding in this study  is that the population of Greenland had higher age-adjusted rates of total cardiovascular disease compared to Demark from at least the mid-1960s onwards, and that ischemic heart disease actually plummeted after the mid-1960s in the Greenland and Alaskan native populations during the Westernization of their diet, although this can partly be attributed to the result of increased access to medicine.
In another study, the researchers found that “Age-standardized death rates for the total population for all causes decreased from 2,500 to 600 per 100,000 person-years during the period 1950-70. Tuberculosis and infectious diseases almost disappeared as causes of death. Simultaneously, chronic diseases, especially cancer and heart diseases, became more visible.”
This demonstrates that while the population had an increased access to medication and treatments over this period which lowers mortality rate from chronic diseases, these statistics suggest that the mostly traditional Inuit diet consumed before this period of time contributed to chronic diseases, especially considering the time-lag difference between risk factors and the development of chronic diseases. The general population, including people with less favorable genetics was now living long enough to experience the diseases associated with their nutritionally inadequate diet.
A review of the evidence shows that both autopsies from 20th century and persevered pre-European contact Inuit exhibit poor vascular and bone health,[3,22,23] and that the earliest relatively accurate Government records of mortality demonstrates that cardiovascular disease including ischemic heart disease frequently occurs among the Inuit even when consuming a mostly traditional diet.
In regards to the large “MR FIT trial” cited by Mr. Masterjohn as showing “plenty of such people [with low cholesterol] died of heart disease”, the researchers actually concluded that “there is an inverse relation between the serum cholesterol level and the risk of death from hemorrhagic stroke in middle-aged American men, but that its public health impact is overwhelmed by the positive association of higher serum cholesterol levels with death from nonhemorrhagic stroke and total cardiovascular disease”.
In populations that consume salt regularly, an inverse relationship between serum cholesterol and hemorrhagic stroke is found, while there is a positive relationship for nonhemorrhagic stroke and total cardiovascular disease. However in populations that maintain both a low serum cholesterol and a low intake of salt, such as traditional populations around Papua New Guinea, rates of both hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic stroke are almost non-exsistant. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke, and by avoiding both elevated blood pressure and elevated serum cholesterol, a lower risk from both hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic strokes can be achieved.
Even the Inuit that Price observed were in the process of modernization. Not all Inuit ate the same thing. This was true before modernization because inland Inuit without year-round access to marine oils and dried fish bones were subject to potentially severe deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D. No doubt many people living in these regions through all of history have been subject to severe nutritional deficiencies according to circumstance, but what Price showed, insofar as he was able — and of course the nature of his investigation was very limited in certain respects — was that those who had successfully harvested the most nutrient-dense foods in these areas had spectacular measures of skeletal health.
I agree that MRFIT showed a positive correlation between serum cholesterol and heart disease, and have never stated otherwise. I agree that the inverse relationship between serum cholesterol and hemorrhagic stroke is dependent on high blood pressure. MR FIT itself provided support for this.
Ms. Minger and Mr. Masterjohn have made some very misleading statements in regards to Dr. Campbell research with protein and cancer, including statements such as “Campbell himself notes that eating a variety of plant foods provides a full spectrum of amino acids —indicating that even a plant-only diet can yield the complete protein Campbell claims to be carcinogenic.”
It is true that a whole foods plant based diet provides complete protein for humans biological requirements, however such a diet would generally be lower in total protein and lower in several amino acids such as lysine and methionine than a conventional diet high in animal products.
The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) has been adopted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration as “preferred approach for assessing protein quality”. The United Nations decided that proteins with a value higher than 1.0 would be leveled down to 1.0, as scores above 1.0 are considered to indicate that the protein contains essential amino acids in excess of human requirements. Eggs have an unadjusted score of 1.18, whereas cow’s milk is 1.21. Most animal protein is not only a complete protein, but provides amino acids in excessive amounts for human requirements. In Mr. Masterjohn’s article in regards to Dr. Campbells studies on rats, he never mentions that whey is high in methionine or cysteine, making milk a complete protein, although according to the PDCAA score both whey and casein alone already have a perfect score leveled down to 1.0.
The diet Dr. Campbell recommends has a significantly different amino acid profile than a conventional diet high in animal protein and the diet that promoted cancer in rats. His research found that it is a high intake of protein that contains amino acids in excess of human biological requirements that promotes cancer, and that even complete proteins have a much smaller impact on the promotion of cancer when consumed in amounts that do not exceed human requirements.
I recommend that the China Study critics actually use a nutritional database to see how likely it would be for a [whole-foods] “plant-only” diet to contain same amount of protein with the same ratio of amino acids as a diet with similar caloric intake that is high in animal protein.
I don’t think either Denise or I ever stated any specific amounts of protein we considered optimal, deficient, or excessive. The point I think we both made in various places is that Campbell states in The China Study that the effect of protein on cancer reflects a qualitative difference between animal and plant proteins, when in fact his research, as well as what you are saying now, indicates that it reflects a quantitative role of total protein.
This statement is not true:
A truer statement would be:
It may or may not be true depending on what whole foods are consumed.
Furthermore, in Mr Masterjohn’s article on Dr. Campbells rat studies, he failed to mention that rats milk contains roughly 18% calories from protein compared to 6% from mothers milk, and has 10 times the concentration of protein compared to mothers milk, due to the fact that weanling rats double their weight in only 4.5 days and grow to adult size within 6 months.[28-29] It is without a doubt that weanling rats consuming only 5% calories from protein would experience stunted growth and various other negative health effects including death, as this would be like feeding a human baby a diet of only 1.7% calories from protein. However, an adult rat has similar low protein requirement as a human, and therefore the rats did not experience such negative health effects when fed a diet of 5% protein as an adult, although experienced significant rates of tumor growth and mortality when fed a diet much higher protein with an amino acid profile that is in excess of human biological requirements. In order to use these results to hypothesis the impact of a high and low protein diet on humans, it is important limit the analysis to adult rats due to the significantly different protein requirements of weanling rats. As Dr. Campbell was hypothesizing about the impacts of a protein restricted diet in humans, his omissions in regards to weanling rats cannot be considered anywhere near as critical as omissions in regards to the differences in protein requirements between weanling rats and humans made my Mr. Masterjohn.
Study after study finds that milk elevates IGF-1 levels, and that elevated IGF-1 promotes cancer growth.[31-36] A randomized trial specifically found that for young boys, while casein increase IGF-1, whey increases fasting insulin. Studies have also shown that restricting dietary protein reduces IGF-1 in humans and therefore may reduce the risk of cancer as well as extending life span.[38-39]
In a recent study on British children, the researchers found that “Total and animal protein intakes at 3 and 7 years were positively associated with age at menarche of less than or equal to 12 years 8 months.”, and that “Meat intake at 3 and 7 years was strongly positively associated with reaching menarche by 12 years 8 months”.
The authors concluded “These data suggest that higher intakes of protein and meat in early to mid-childhood may lead to earlier menarche. This may have implications for the lifetime risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.”
I addressed these issues in the addendum:
In a recent systematic literature review in regards to cancer by an expert panel from the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, the experts found convincing evidence based on 16 cohort studies and 71 case-controlled studies for red meat and 14 cohort and 44 case-control studies for processed meat, that these foods promote colorectum cancer, as well as suggestive evidence based on over 100 studies with an additional 6 cancers, with not even a suggestive decrease risk for any type of cancer. The panel also found probable evidence related with salt consumption and stomach cancer and diets high in calcium with prostate cancer.
The panel also found probable evidence based on several hundred studies of a decrease risk in 8 cancers with vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and limited suggestive evidence for an additional 6 cancers, with the only adverse effect coming from limited inconsistent evidence with chilli and stomach cancer.
In regards to carcinogens [cancer promoting agent], the panel made the following statements in their report:
“So far, 17 different heterocyclic amines have been identified as being formed by cooking muscle meats and which may pose a cancer risk”
“Nitrite is used to preserve processed meats (it is extremely toxic to bacteria)… Several N-nitroso compounds are known human or animal carcinogens.”
“Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of over 100 different chemicals formed when organic substances like tobacco or meat are burnt incompletely.”
Among the recommendations concluded in this report, the expert panel concluded “Eat mostly foods of plant origin” and to “Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat”.
The American Institute for Cancer Research stated in regards to this report that “Research on processed meat shows cancer risk starts to increase with any portion” – although this has not stopped Mr. Masterjohn from promoting processed meat on his homepage.
Mr. Masterjohn is not the only person related to the Weston A. Price Foundation who promotes the consumption of products that increase the risk of cancer in any portion, Barry Groves also makes utterly ridiculous claims such as “tobacco smoke contains no carcinogens” and that “smoking may reduce cancer risk”.
One would wonder if the late Weston Price would be horrified to find out how the Weston A. Price Foundation is using his name, in the same way that experts who Gary Taubes claimed support his hypothesis were “horrified” by his article in the New York Times, finding that he takes quotes “out of context” and “ignores” research.
Could you please quote where I “promote using processed meat”?
The banner gives the reader the impression that you believe these foods are healthy.
It might give this impression to someone who doesn’t read any of the material on my site, but I’m not sure if you’d call such a person a “reader.” The graphic fits well with the title, has an attractive color scheme, and is likely to draw people into reading the text. It certainly isn’t meant as a substitution for the text.
This gets old fast.
All foods promote “cancer growth”.
Cancer cells are parasitic, diverting nutrients to promote their own cell division.
I too am intrigued by the seeming ability of properly planned, plant-based diets to improve heart disease. However, Esselstyn and Ornish were likely treating patients who had only ever known industrially produced animal products. Factory farmed dairy, eggs, pork and beef are far different animal foods than those we evolved eating.
“There have been no studies proving that patients have reversed their heart disease without medication when consuming a diet with a moderate to high intake of animal foods, regardless of lifestyle changes made.”
Have you ever encountered a study where the patients were instructed to eat – and were confirmed to have eaten – naturally raised /fed, pesticide free, organic and/or wild animal products exclusively? No, you haven’t. All of these failed trials involved people eating industrial animal products. And that’s a serious confounder, whether you like it or not.
And perhaps the Masai and Inuit did exhibit some degree of atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. That still doesn’t prove that animal products are to blame. In either case, I doubt they exhibited a serious outbreak of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in young children, such as we do, in our society. They may not have been in perfect health – alas, such a thing probably doesn’t exist – but they were still far, far healthier than we are, despite their massive intake of animal fat and protein.
There is very good evidence to suggest that animal products are essential for human health, in a single lifetime and in continuing generations. Every healthy, pre-industrial culture consumed animal products to one degree or another.
The patients of Ornish and Esselstyn saw numerous changes in their diets beyond a reduction in animal fat and protein. They were eating less hydrogenated fat, less high fructose corn syrup, less refined vegetable oils and less processed, modern junk food in general. All of this on top of many other lifestyle changes. And they were putting mostly middle-aged and elderly patients, in the wake of their lives, on plant-based diets. And sure, in the context of a whole-foods, unprocessed diet – the likes of which they had never known – they apparently were in better health for the remainder of their lives. However, put human beings from birth on a vegan diet and see what happens 20 years down the road. Keep their children and their children on the same diet. You would quite likely see disastrous consequences.
This brings me back to what I was saying earlier in this thread concerning the need to determine the most favorable spot on the plant vs. animal food scale for human health. We can look at the Masai and Inuit to determine that on the extreme of animal product consumption, their health does not deteriorate to the same degree as ours. Not even close. But perhaps they would’ve thrived better had they been a little closer to the plant-based end of the spectrum such as many of the healthy cultures depicted in Denise’s graphs. Complete plant-based living, however, is likely playing with fire. If it wasn’t, we likely wouldn’t be conversing on a very popular blog called “Raw Food SOS”. And my hair wouldn’t have stopped growing except for small patches on a vegan diet. 🙂
p.s. I can’t determine from your comments whether you personally advocate vegan diets. But Ornish, Esselstyn and Campbell – whose views and work you defend – most definitely do.
T Warrior is one of the vegan Blog Bandits:
I wonder if any enterprising Phd candidate has done a survey on the use of “warrior” in online names as it corresponds to ideological rigidity?
I call them (Esselstyn and Campbell, McDougall, et al) the Vegan Rat Pack. 😉
You have made many interesting points. In the interest of learning could you please comment on The Sami people of Norway. They are another group with high meat consumption that seems to have good health.
Also, some studies and I can dig one up if need to show that there is a distiction between red meat and white meat and fish and it’s association with heart disease and cancer. In fact white meat and fish has been shown to have a protective association. Do you have an opinion on why red meat and white meat may differ in their effects?
I think we can also include the Icelandic people in this category – a northern dwelling population that is heavily reliant on fatty fish and enjoys a long healthy life. Adds credence to the claim that fish-eating populations are amongst the healthiest and longest lived.
A, I agree with you, T Warrior has made many interesting points. And so has Chris Masterjohn, whose articles I think are excellent. T Warrior seems not to reply to Chris, but perhaps this is because he needs to get across complicated points without interruption.
I am interested to hear your own views on the distinction between red meat and white meat and fish. My view might be that the difference lies partly in the high heme content of red meat, heme being toxic as you pointed out, and partly in the corresponding high iron content. I’ve just looked up the USDA database, and it seems red meat (beef) has about twice as much iron as white meat and fish. There are several recent papers implicating both heme iron and non-heme iron in metabolic/heart disease.
I think the concept that iron overload could increase the risk of heart disease and mortality and morbidity from a variety of other causes is scientific and well supported. In light of that, it is certainly plausible that the iron content of red meat could contribute to these diseases, although I think this is most likely to be the case in people with hemochromatosis. Iron-rich foods might contribute to a large degree in these people and that might show up as a smaller association within the general population.
That said, there are a few reasons I doubt this is responsible for epidemiological associations between red meat and mortailty or morbidity. First, there are many iron-rich plant foods and the iron in these foods is easily rendered very bioavailable by consuming vitamin C-rich foods in the same meal. These foods should have the same associations, and as far as I know they do not. Second, the toxicity of iron is mainly mediated by that portion that is not used for the production of hemoglobin and other heme-containing enyzmes (these include many detoxification, antioxidant, and energy-production enzymes). You can dramatically reduce this toxicity, for example, by giving someone erythropoietin, the hormone that increases red blood cell production and thereby causes iron to get used instead of sitting around doing damage. I do not have the references on hand, but I have seen several studies where vegetarians have higher levels of unused iron and lower levels of hemoglobin, so meat seems to promote the utilization of iron. Third, food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) are incredibly inaccurate at judging red meat consumption. For example, the Nurses’ Health Study’s validation of their FFQ showed that it had hardly more than 1% accuracy in predicting true hamburger intake over one year. I have written about that in these two blogs:
Will Eating Meat Make Us Die Younger?
New Study Shows That Lying About Your Hamburger Intake Prevents Disease and Death When You Eat a Low-Carb Diet High in Carbohydrates
I think there is a much more compelling explanation for the differential associations with red meat and white meat. The medical and nutritional establishments have been telling people for decades that red meat is unhealthy because it is high in saturated fat and that white meat is healthy because it provides lean protein without all the saturated fat found in red meat. Thus, health-conscious people for the most part avoid red meat and eat white meat. While there are many people, including myself, that believe that red meat can be very healthy, we are few and far between and do not meaningfully contribute to populations in epidemiological studies. Usually these associations are partially attenutated when adjusted for education, income, and other dietary and lifestyle practices, but the totality of the confounding factors can never be adjusted for because many of them are unknown. Moreover, many of the known likely confounders are difficult or impossible to measure. Psychological variables like “positive outlook on life,” “motivation” and other attitudes that certainly confound these associations are almost never addressed in nutritional studies.
An epidemiological association that supports the establishment view is meaningless, for the simple reason that the majority of people believe the establishment is legitimate. If the government and mainline health professional organizations began telling everyone red meat prevented heart disease, I believe we would begin seeing similar associations suggesting people are less likely to get heart disease when they eat red meat. If they said the same thing about carrying golf balls on one’s nose, and somehow made it believable, we would eventually see inverse correlations between heart disease risk and time spent carrying golf balls on one’s nose.
I doubt you can get too much iron from eating red meat before feeling very full. First off, how many steaks can one eat at a sitting before crying uncle? On the other hand, there’s no limit to the number of iron pills one can swallow at a time with enough liquids.
For most people there’s an even better reason — iron absorption is highly regulated and if you don’t need more iron, you won’t absorb it. However, many people have genetic defects in this mechanism and they can very easily get too much iron from food, regardless of whether it is from animals or plants.
(Jane, I had a very long and exhausting but fun day so I am not ignoring your post by any means but will have to defer replying till tomorrow or Monday; talk to you soon).
Another problem with animal products is that they are fibreless and therefore the gut-transit time is a lot slower, allowing for heightened exposure to potential human carcinogens in the digestive system. The World Cancer Research Fund has stated that red meat contains a “red-coloured compound called haem, which has been shown to damage the lining of the colon“. Whole plant food is high in fiber and does not contain haem iron which is an advantage over animal and processed foods.
In a systematic review of the medical literature, the expert panel from the World Cancer Research Fund found probable evidence from 16 cohorts, 91 case-control studies, and an additional 13 cohort studies from the Harvard pooling project that dietary fiber protects against colorectal cancer and is clearly related to a dose-response relationship. The report did not seem to be entirely clear if resistant starch was included as a dietary fiber, as there are consistent findings between resistant starch (particularly high in beans) with colon health.
The panel also found limited evidence from 17 cohort studies and 71 case-control studies that non-starchy vegetables protect against colorectal cancer, despite being relatively high in iron and vitamin C. The panel also found limited evidence available that dietary folate and vitamin D protect against colorectal cancer.
For poultry the evidence was limited and inconsistent for any type of cancer, and for fish there was a substantial amount of data showing inconsistent results with a decrease risk of colorectal cancer, which may have been confounding with meat intake.
The panel however found potential cancer promoting effects caused by heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can be found in high quantities in any type of muscle tissue depending on the preparation method.
The panel found that “Haem promotes the formation of N-nitroso compounds and also contains iron. Free iron can lead to production of free radicals. Iron overload also activates oxidative responsive transcription factors, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and iron-induced hypoxia signaling” and that “dietary haem iron induces colonic cytotoxicity and hyperproliferation”.
The panel also found limited but consistent evidence that animal fat promotes colorectal cancer. 
I also do not agree with some of Mr. Masterjohns other statements, especially in regards to people who eat red meat becoming sicker because the establishment associates red meat with disease. There have a been numerous animal studies that still show consistent detrimental affects of red meat and haem iron. During the development of many nations that had a low iron status and a short stature, these populations have typically believed that red meat is health promoting, which has resulted in a several fold increase in colorectal cancer, and several other cancers in nations such as Japan.[IV,VI]
Another point I disagree with is in regards to underreporting foods that are considered unhealthy and over-reporting foods that are considered healthy. This would still most likely be consistent in those participants who actually eat fewer foods considered unhealthy and eat more foods that are considered healthy.
It is interesting how plant foods are a poor source of essential amino acids and iron when referring to the benefits of these nutrients, yet suddenly become a very good source of these nutrients when referring to the detrimental affects of these nutrients.
T W said: “Another problem with animal products is that they are fibreless and therefore the gut-transit time is a lot slower, allowing for heightened exposure to potential human carcinogens in the digestive system.”
Frankly, I’m glad to no longer be a slave to the vegan ideology. And, as a former admirer of TCS, I’m also grateful to the analysis provided by Denise and Chris. For me, none of this would have been possible without the work of Gary Taubes, whose books changed my life. I’m now able to see though some incredibly deceptive, and sometimes downright dishonest, propaganda on the part of plant-based-diet promoters. However, I don’t care what they eat so long as they don’t use the government to tell what I should or shouldn’t eat.
“T Warrior seems not to reply to Chris, but perhaps this is because he needs to get across complicated points without interruption.”
Or perhaps it’s because T Warrior has no interest in actual discussion.
Much more likely the case. It is his modus operandi to post as many links to studies he can find that have anything whatever to do with some aspect of some topic that has been discussed, brought up, or alluded to, which will redirect the attention and efforts of the writers from the original premise of this post: that Campbell’s data do not support his conclusions. He can’t actually discuss that, because it is beyond question. Somehow he thinks that all these peripheral studies can change that fact, but they can’t.
But when you see the truth as flexible and subordinate to ideology, that doesn’t matter.
Intelligent? Yes. But still, a troll trying to hijack the comments in this blog. If he was serious, he would be starting his own blog and responding to comments there. Because it would appear he could have plenty to say in that sort of medium.
why do you assume twarrior is a “he”?
I considered using “he or she”, but didn’t feel like doing so. TW can correct me if I chose wrongly, but my feeling is that “warrior” is something that is more of a masculine than feminine choice of username.
If you check the time stamp on my posts, you will notice I posted the majority of them at the same time, and I understand how this makes it look like that I am ignoring Mr. Masterjohn comments.
Posting the majority of them at the same time also makes it look like you’re just plastering this blog with what amounts to spam instead of engaging in discussion.
Hi Chris, many thanks.
Hi A, what are your views on this?
Back to Chris:
There is a debate going on right now in China about iron. Some researchers have found a link between diabetes/insulin resistance and heme iron, and others with non-heme iron as well, meaning the iron-rich plant foods you mentioned.
‘A study on the association between iron status and diabetes in adults in North China has recently been reported by Luan et al. (1). The results partly confirmed our previous finding from South China (2). In Luan et al.’s study, only heme iron was found to be associated with risk of diabetes. However, the intake of heme iron in their dataset is very low: mean intake ± SD in first quartile only 0.3 ± 0.3 mg/day. Thus, the reference group is mainly composed of vegetarians. It may not be appropriate to examine the association between heme iron and diabetes without adjusting for socioeconomic status because those eating less heme iron may be the poor, who have a lower risk of diabetes in China.
‘We reanalyzed our data and examined the association between heme and nonheme iron intake and diabetes. Although the subjects in our study had a similar heme iron intake (mean ± SD 2.27 ± 3.3 mg/day), we found opposite results. Among women but not men, only nonheme iron intake was associated with diabetes.’
Only non-heme iron. Now, the finding that this is true in women but not men is very interesting, because it might be related to absorption of manganese, which is different in men and women, and crucially, low in women who have high iron stores:
Manganese protects against excess iron. Have a look at this remarkable paper showing that iron-induced parkinsonism in rats can be completely prevented by manganese:
The thing about iron is that it’s very difficult to excrete. It just accumulates, unlike manganese. There is much squawking in the literature about the toxicity of manganese, but actually it isn’t toxic unless you breathe in manganese dust every day. It’s iron that’s toxic.
‘You can dramatically reduce this toxicity, for example, by giving someone erythropoietin, the hormone that increases red blood cell production and thereby causes iron to get used instead of sitting around doing damage.’
Yes you’re right, but I think it’s debatable whether this is a good idea, considering that iron needs to be withheld from microorganisms and damaged tissue and cancer cells. I expect you are aware of the literature on iron withholding and ‘anaemia of chronic disease’.
The thing is, iron toxicity can be prevented naturally by avoiding manganese deficiency, and also copper deficiency. Copper is needed for all aspects of iron metabolism and transport, including absorption, and I rather think the billions of people thought to be suffering from iron deficiency actually have copper deficiency. Iron is probably safe as long as it’s bound to ferritin, and iron loading onto ferritin apparently requires copper.
The moral of this story is that if you want to eat red meat, you should be careful to eat a lot of wholemeal bread/brown rice/legumes etc as well.
BTW, when you were a vegetarian, did you eat any white flour or white rice or white sugar?
I am really not sure about all of these mineral balance issues and thier effect on health. It just goes to show how complex nutrition can be and how many different combinations and variables can exist.
I don’t see how you come to this conclusion.
“The moral of this story is that if you want to eat red meat, you should be careful to eat a lot of wholemeal bread/brown rice/legumes etc as well. ”
Seems to me that you can get adequate mineral intake by eating vegetables fruits, and nuts. A good assortment of Green Vegetables will keep you from being low on any of these protective minerals. In addition, as we noted, maybe Chlorophyll from greens is protective.
As mom always said”eat your vegetables”. They are good for you. I am sure TWarrior would agree with that!
“It just goes to show how complex nutrition can be and how many different combinations and variables can exist.”
Human nutrition has become a lot more complex with the Internet available to us. Too much misinformation is being spread. And yes, those poor paleolithic hunter/gatherers must have had an unbalanced diet without wheat and other grains. lol. 😉
Are you joking? The study of human nutrition has certainly become more complex. Researchers like Campbell who are pushing an agenda over good science now can get called on it.
Human nutrition itself is, as always, little changed over the past 10,000, 100,000, or 1,000,000 years. The modern diet eaten by “civilized” populations is an aberration that is not even a blip on the timeline.
Apparently detecting sarcasm isn’t your forté. lol. Yes I was joking and that is why I inserted the ;). Got it?
I am not sure what good science you are referring to.
Most of the chronic diseases Dr. Campbell refers to most often occur outside of reproductive years (at least in those populations which are slim), which means human would not likely adapt to high meat diet as the likelihood of dying out was relatively low.
Humans ate plentifull quatities of meat for 2 mil years. If the grandparents of a new born child survived well into old age, perhaps this gave the newborn child an advantage in survival. He or she would have had the added care of a grandmother. This would give an advantage to the family with older healthier people. Thus, there can be slow Natural selection occuring for these older age traits, especailly over 2 mil years.
Even prior to 2 mil years there was likely some meat and insect consumption as we see in the natural diet of most modern primates.
It is vegan dogma that humans are actually herbivores who only began eating meat in the late neolithic age. It is necessary to ignore an awful lot of data to maintain this illusion.
Here is an interesting statement from a Paleo advocate, Wolfgang Kopp – in regards to the adaptation to the modern diet:
“we have to take into account that death from atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurs later during life, as a rule after the reproduction phase. Even a high mortality from CVD after the reproduction phase will create little selection pressure. Thus, it seems that a diet can be functional (it keeps us going) and dysfunctional (it causes health problems) at the same time.”
This statement could not be any less true for Paleolithic humans, who switched from a predominately plant based diet to one that contained more meat, and not limited to mortality from other chronic diseases including cancer and cerebrovascular disease that generally occur after the reproduction phase. If humans have evolved on a high meat diet, it may have only been to the point where we have been able to postpone chronic disease until after the reproduction phase.
The fact that prehistoric humans consumed a small amount of bugs or meat in their diet does not justify the consumption of meat in large quantities as being healthy – it is not all or nothing as many people have come to believe. Many Paleo advocates will even attempt to claim that the robust health of the Kitavans somehow back-up their dietary recommendations that allow an unlimited license to gorge on meat and oil despite the fact that 95% of the Kitavan caloric intake is derived from whole plant foods.
The only population we know for sure that traditionally consumed a predominately meat based diet were the Eskimo, and the well persevered ancient remains show that they developed atherosclerosis and osteoporosis, even at a relatively young age.
Protection from chronic disease among primitive civilizations has most likely not been related to a high intake of meat, but rather a high intake of unrefined plant matter, being very active, having less exposure to chemicals and air pollution, as well as caloric restriction and fasting due to a lack of availability of food.
A true Paleolithic diet is one that includes caloric restriction and fasting, which allows the body time to heal and slows down the aging process, a diet that is very different than the fad diet often referred to as a ‘Paleo diet’. The advocates of these diets often completely ignore the majority of the world’s population, living in parts of Asia, Africa and South America consuming a post-agriculture diet high in legumes and grains in the absence of obesity and the alleged ‘diseases of civilization’. A more accurate term for such diseases should more be along the lines of ‘diseases of affluence in the absence of physical activity’.
Many people also believe that they will achieve the touted benefits of the Mediterranean diet by consuming wine and olive oil without the large salad and the other whole plant foods.
One cannot just simply take the desired parts of a particular diet and believe that they will receive protection from chronic disease, as doing so may just result in the exact opposite result.
There is no evidence that early hominids from whom we descended consumed anything but a meat-based diet. The universal sign of an early human encampment is not fossilized plant material, but rather long bones of large game animals, broken with stone choppering tools and twisted to remove the marrow, and broken skull cases.
Carbon and nitrogen analysis of early human fossils and bones up until quite recently shows that they ate hardly anything but meat. Plant protein was not a significant part of their diet.
‘I don’t see how you come to this conclusion.’
Here’s how: I spent 25 years reading the literature. I am a scientist. That doesn’t necessarily mean I know what I’m talking about, of course.
‘A good assortment of Green Vegetables will keep you from being low on any of these protective minerals.’
Yes you’re right, but only if you’re not eating meat. The green vegetables have a good iron-manganese ratio, and a good zinc-copper ratio, but the meat does not. Beef, for example, has enormous quantities of (highly-available) iron and zinc, and hardly any copper or manganese.
Whole grains are the best source of manganese, unless you want to live on blueberries. They fill you up, too, unlike green vegetables.
I can understand why you’re puzzled. The authorities find this so puzzling they add extra iron to white flour and white rice. Most of the the manganese is removed during refining, and replaced with iron, sending the iron-manganese ratio into the stratosphere.
The RDA is 2.5-7mg per day. There are plenty of non-grain sources for manganese: Spinach, nuts, strawberries, pineapple, a variety of green leafy vegetables. Blueberries are great also for this and for antioxidants. Tea is apparently an excellent source. If you are a tea drinker this is great news.
Does this mean that the pre agricultural or “Paleo diet” is unbalanced in minerals? This diet has no grains and lots of meat and vegetables.
Also, what part do phytates play in whole grains. Do they bind up certain minerals and what way do they change the mineral balance when grains are eaten with meat?
It does seem crazy that the authorities add only iron to white flour.
Statistics for China taken from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO] statistics website found here: http://faostat.fao.org/site/368/DesktopDefault.aspx?PageID=368
1961: Start of the FAO database
1973-75: Mortality statistics for China Project I
1978: Chinese reform starts – economic boom starts and food prices eventually drop by 50% causing an increased change towards a western diet
1983: Dietary and lifestyle statistics for China Project I
1986-88: Mortality statistics for China Project II
1989: Dietary and lifestyle statistics for China Project II
Before brackets = Food supply (kcal/capita/day)
Brackets = Year
Animal Products: 58(61), 135-137(73-75), 142-164(78-79), 196(83), 253-285(86-88), 295(89)
Animal Fats: 5(61), 14-15(73-75), 18(83), 17(79), 18(83), 21-23(86-88), 24(89)
Meat: 29(61), 94(73-75), 98-118(78-79), 144(83), 185-206 (86-88), 214(89)
Wheat: 180(61), 322-368(73-75), 460-474(78-79), 628(83), 675-674(86-88), 682(89)
Sugar & Sweeteners: 22(61), 34-33(73-75), 42-47(78-79), 61(83), 69-85(86-88), 74(89)
Alcoholic Beverages: 8(61), 16-21(73-75), 23-20(78-79), 39(83), 51-62(86-88), 57(89)
Palm & Coconut oil: 2(61), 5(73-75), 4-6(78-79), 6(83), 11-14(86-88), 21(89)
Other Vegetable Oils: 28(61), 42-45(73-75), 56-59(78-79), 91(83), 104(86-88), 113(89)
Before comparing these statistics to the China Project mortality rates and dietary intake of specific food, remember that despite containing dozens of human carcinogens it is a smoking habit of between 30 and 40 years that determines current risk.* This is the time lag period between risk factors and many chronic diseases, and explains why smoking was high in the U.S. in the early 1900s, but lung cancer rates were not high until the middle of the century. Also remember that the China Project only included mortality rates, not incident rates of diseases, and new technologies and greater access to medication allowed the lowering of mortality rates from chronic diseases between the two sets of data. This means that although the mortality rates of many chronic diseases in certain counties between the two sets of data remained stable, the dietary changes made between the two studies may still have had a detrimental effect on health.
The large changes of many dietary factors were too recent in relationship to the China Project to sufficiently impact the mortality rates in many counties. It is not what the Chinese were consuming in 1983 and 1989 that affected the mortality rates between 1973-75 and 1986-8, it was their dietary and lifestyle patterns several decades before the mortality statistics that had the greatest impact.
This data suggests that the critics of China Study do not have sufficient evidence to incriminate certain foods, nor sufficient evidence to decriminalize certain foods or even suggest that certain foods are health promoting – for those foods that consumption was greatly increased prior to the collection of the mortality statistics in the China Project. Animal food consumption was on average less than 100 calories a day two decades prior to the statistics from the China Project II were collected, which may have been insufficient to create a statistical difference in mortality rates between many counties. Consumption of simple carbohydrates (which includes wheat as it is mainly consumed refined) and vegetable oils in the 1960s were also consumed only as a fraction of what was consumed during the China Project II. Simple carbohydrates and vegetable oils are empty calories, and therefore could be disease promoting when consumed in favor of more nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
I realize the Dr. Campbell analysis may not have been perfect, but this does not give critics the excuse to fail to inform the readers of the flaws I attempted to cover throughout my posts.
There are 47 counties with data available from both the China Study I & II for IHD (ischemic heart disease) mortality, and all but 3 counties had an increase in mortality, which could partly be related to a move towards a Western diet. The data from mortality rates from many non-salt sensitive ‘western diseases’ were low in China in comparison to the developed world, despite lower access to medication.
Additional government statistics for China:
More than 10% of energy from animal-source foods, for adults ages 20-45(%)[VII]
1989: 49.8/33.3 (Urban/Rural)
1993: 59.8/37.6 (Urban/Rural)
1997: 57.2/37.6 (Urban/Rural)
Coronary heart disease (death rate per 100,000)[VIII]
1980: 38.55/18.64 (Urban/Rural)
1990: 47.48/22.82 (Urban/Rural)
1999: 65.8/30.58 (Urban/Rural)
It is very possible that the Urban Chinese were also more likely to consume refined foods, however the Urban Chinese were also wealthier and had greater access to medication and advanced treatments to treat heart disease compared to the Rural Chinese.
This data as well as the data from the China Project may provide evidence that certain aspects of the traditional Chinese diet protect against heart disease and other ‘western diseases’.
On the other hand the data from the FAO statistics website also includes the supply of offal, which disproves unreferenced claims many individuals have made in regards to the quantity of organ meat consumed in certain Asian nations.
The authors of this article not only attempt to downplay the health benefits of fruits and vegetable, and downplay the detrimental effects of meat, but also seem to downplay any significant role between diet and chronic diseases.
The authors of this article attempt to downlplay the World Cancer Research Fund report for not including a large study that was never published(at least never made it to pubmed and many other major databases), based on the Harvard pooling project. However while the report never included this unpublished study, it did actually cover the Harvard pooling project, which raises questions about the possibility of major flaws in this unpublished study.
What is most likely the largest meta-analysis in relationship between meat intake and colorectal cancer that has been successfully published, included 500,000 men and women. The researchers came to the following conclusion: “Both red and processed meat intakes were positively associated with cancers of the colorectum and lung; furthermore, red meat intake was associated with an elevated risk for cancers of the esophagus and liver.”[IX]
The authors of this article also try to claim that the report attempted to downplay the importance of the role of cigarette smoking and cancer, although the failed to mention that colorectal cancer is the largest single cause of cancer death among non-smokers in developed nations.
The focus of the report was “Food, Nutrition and Physical Activity”, and therefore did not cover cigarette smoking and exposure to other behaviors to a large degree. The report did however cover smoking and risk of cancer to a certain degree,[X]and consistently reviewed studies that had been adjusted for cigarette smoking. The panel also stated among their conclusions that “The Panel also emphasises the importance of not smoking and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke.”
‘Does this mean that the pre agricultural or “Paleo diet” is unbalanced in minerals? This diet has no grains and lots of meat and vegetables.
Well actually, there is evidence that pre-agricultural people DID eat grains. There is a 2002 paper entitled ‘The exploitation of plant resources by Neanderthals in Amud cave ..’, showing that Neanderthals collected grain.
There is also evidence that people were using grinding stones to process carbohydrate-rich foods much earlier than anyone thought:
‘Also, what part do phytates play in whole grains. Do they bind up certain minerals and what way do they change the mineral balance when grains are eaten with meat?’
As far as I have been able to find out, phytate does have the potential to correct the mineral imbalances that can be caused by eating meat. It certainly binds zinc better than copper, and probably binds iron better than manganese. Possibly calcium better than magnesium, meaning the high Ca/Mg ratio in dairy products could be corrected too.
Dairy products also have a very high Zn/Cu ratio, so high that milk has been used in the lab to make rats copper-deficient. So eating whole-grain cereals with your milk would be a good idea, like eating wholemeal buns with your hamburger.
Talking of breakfast cereals, I found out in the USDA database recently that many ‘ready-to-eat’ cereals in the US now have added zinc. Groan. Not quite as bad as adding iron to white flour and white rice, but close.
As far as I have been able to find out, phytate does have the potential to correct the mineral imbalances that can be caused by eating meat.
Another proponent of the Bigger Lie theory, apparently.
The truth is that eating enough meat can protect you against the ability of grain phytate to block mineral absorption, which causes all sorts of problems for us:
the primary determinant of gross clinical expression of deficiency of vitamin D is vegetarianism. There is a protective effect of meat consumption. McDonalds will do. So might reindeeer meat in the Magdalenian Basin 18,000 years ago.
And if you’re thinking of cutting back on the meat, better get tons of sun, or your bones will start to bend:
As the dietary pattern moves from omnivore to vegetarian, rachitic and osteomalacic risk rise synergistically with falling exposure to UVR (Fig. 1).
According to Chris Masterjohn, the Eskimos apparently had severe vitamin D deficiency despite consuming a predominately meat based diet. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation would be beneficial regardless of diet type for anyone living away from the human’s natural habitat close to the equator.
Hopefully, I don’t have to worry about this. Even though I eat lots of meat and no grains, I have a glass of wine with dinner. The natural wines I drink can be very high in copper. Hm maybe that is the real reason wine is heart healthy. Could it be the copper? Yet another explanation for the French Paradox.
Click to access litHI_83740.pdf
Yes, and I understand French wines have a lot of manganese as well as copper. To my mind, this is indeed the best explanation for the French Paradox. I expect you’ve seen the Linus Pauling Institute’s work on flavonoids
.. which would seem to rule them out. Although I did read flavonoids inhibit iron absorption.
Hi, Sick of the Endless Vegan Lies,
‘The primary determinant of gross clinical expression of deficiency of vitamin D is vegetarianism.’
Actually the primary determinant of low vitamin D levels seems to be mineral deficiency, especially of magnesium:
Manganese is involved as well. ‘It has also been suggested that a relationship exists between vitamin D and manganese (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, 1963), a slight deficiency of either being counteracted by a larger intake of the other ..’
This is very interesting, because it suggests that vitamin D supplementation might actually work by counteracting manganese deficiency.
How can one measure their mineral balances to see if they are optimized? If blood serum levels don’t give a good indication of the amount of copper that is in the diet and needed, then how can one find out if they are getting enough copper relative to iron? Is there anyway to check mineral levels and draw any conclusions? Are hair tests usefull as a diagnostic for copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron,Zinc, etc.?
Seems to me that without some measure, it’s almost imposible to know if you are getting too little or too much.
By these criteria, how could anyone have ever had their minerals balanced sufficiently for good health in all of history and prehistory?
Woo-hoo, another lie! Nowhere in that article does it say anything about magnesium being the “primary determinant”, let alone being as important as, say, getting enough sun, or, say, eating meat.
The Blog Bandit strategy has clearly evolved: Search pubmed for a keyword, then paste in irrelevant studies to appear to be authoritative.
I am not entirely sure if your opinion is that anyone who says plants are healthier than animal products is lying, or if you are refereeing to anyone who says that you cannot be healthy consuming any animal products at all. If it is the former, you may already be aware that virtually every major health authority has a significantly different opinion than you.
I notice that you seem to source your information from blogs run by individuals who are skeptical about cholesterol. I highly recommend reading the following reviews from major health authorities in regards to some of the studies these skeptical individuals think highly of:
Click to access 1055-9965.EPI-09-1027.full.pdf
Click to access EHN%20position%20piece%20-%20sats%20meta%20analysis.pdf
Despite what you want to believe, everybody simply doesn’t agree, and that includes an awful lot of scientists who come up with data that doesn’t support conventional wisdom. At the same time, a lot of conventional wisdom is based on studies that were seriously flawed or have been misrepresented, which does rather bring us around full circle. That is the role of science, to challenge conventional wisdom, rather than following it blindly.
Conventional wisdom used to say that the sun revolved around the earth and all illness was caused by the spells of witchcraft. Did that make it so? Should that never have been challenged, because everybody knew it to be so?
I am curious what your diet is. What choices have you made? Do you eat any meat at all? I don’t ask this to be critical of you. You obviously have done alot of studies in nutrition and have strong opinions that you have supported. I respect your choices.
As you are well aware, many people are scepticle of the common wisdom from health authorities. For example, I can recall when we were told that we shouldn’t have saturated fat and that we should use margarine. I replaced all of my butter with margarine(Made from trans fats). My HDL went down and my LDL went up. But I thought that the experts knew best. Then I went on a ultra low fat diet with high carbs. HDL went still lower and LDL went higher. For me the best compromise seems to be having a moderate amount of meat in my diet w/o dairy products and avoiding grains and added sugars. This is the diet for me that maximizes my HDL and keeps my LDL from going too high,
Part of the problem with going along with the common wisdom is that it’s often wrong and not right. One researcher quotes the next. Soon something that isn’t a proven fact becomes a fact in the peoples minds because they have heard it from experts over and over again. But each expert is just copying the other. Then someone comes along with a different idea and they are ridiculed, even though they could be right.
Yes, there are some people here that don’t question the principles behind their diet and these people are not tolerent and receptive to the views of others. They fall into the group think model, which is a very unfortunate thing in a field that is so uncertain and evolving.
Do you question the common wisdom or do you just accept it? Do you question all of the assumptions and knowledge that you have about your diet and health.
A and Angela,
Yes you’re right, it’s almost impossible to know. Here’s what Klevay says about hair mineral analysis:
My solution to this problem, when I found out about it 25 years ago, was to adopt the diet eaten by the healthiest people in the world, the Hunza. I don’t know what else one can do.
Sick of the Endless Vegan Lies,
I would be very grateful if you could read the other comments I have posted on this thread. You will find a lot of ammunition.
I can’t wait to see what you write next.
Trying to fine-tune your diet by hair analysis is like trying to predict the weather based on tree rings in tree stumps.
Orthorexia Nervosa runs rampant! It is both laughable and sad to see so many people stressing over their diet. I don’t run my life by the study-du-jour, I observe what healthy populations are doing and how humans have eaten throughout our existence rather than adhere to some nutty diet religion. I swear that North America must have the highest number of diet nutburgers on the planet. Let the diet religionists of this world destroy their health. They are willingly removing their kind from the human gene pool.
I’m off to eat some real food …
Grow your own. That’s the only way to ensure your getting plants that
aren’t grown in deficient soils. Our ancestors didn’t have to worry about it
because the weeds they ate (non domesticated fruits and vegetables) were
grown in soils that weren’t over-farmed.
Take note that only 11% of Americans eat the recommended amounts of both
fruits and vegetables a day. That’s an 89% fail rate for the MINIMUM
recommendations to prevent disease. Now factor in the average American
consumes only 2.61 servings of fruit and vegetables a day with a third of
that being fried potatoes and iceberg lettuce and you can quickly see why
many people feel they are or could be deficient in vitamins or minerals. Low
income individuals eat even less servings per day. Much less.
So lets say you did eat the recommended amounts. Is that enough? Maybe.
Probably not. Just for giggles go over to http://www.nutritiondata.com and add up
the mineral content of five or six servings of any fruit or veggie combo you
want and see what you get. Hint: It’s not enough. Double it. Still not
enough. Remember, these are all minimums to prevent disease. If we use upper tolerable intakes or even optimal amounts its even worse, not to mention trace minerals.
I have a suspicion that we are “evolutionarily inclined” to eat the three or so
servings of fruits and vegetables that we do consume. I believe in times past this amount WAS sufficient to meet needs. Notice how as diseases get more prevalent and farming gets more industrial and intensified recommended servings go up up up…Mineral fortified foods (as unhealthy as they usually are) ironically may have been our safety net this whole time.
If only the solution was as easy as sitting on your high horse and waving
your finger telling people to eat better we wouldn’t be in this mess.
Unfortunately my formatting is deficient.
‘Mineral fortified foods (as unhealthy as they usually are) ironically may have been our safety net this whole time.’
Did you know that mineral fortified foods are fortified with exactly the WRONG minerals? Iron, zinc and calcium, which are already present in the average American diet in huge excess.
Moreover, these metals inhibit absorption and utilisation of manganese, copper and magnesium, which are deficient in the average American diet.
It can be argued, and I think it may be true, that this insane fortification is a major cause of modern Western disease.
They will always be wrong. Because even the right ones in the wrong doses and forms would be wrong eventually. The problem here is over consumption. We don’t need to eat six or eight times a day. The second issue is one of detoxification. With living raw foods you get countless cofactors and optimal forms of nutrients that can be more easily excreted and balanced. Add a bit of natural anopsology to this mix and your well on your way.
Obviously wikipedia is not so much for free speech but for ‘credentialed’ free speech. They are more concerned with who is saying something than with what is being said. Which is why I never use wikipedia.
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I appreciate how you went through these numbers again but I really think that trying to prescribe a better diet then put forward in TCS would be pretty hard. And for the people who are really against these vegans, I am not vegan, but I am huge into people. The best argument vegans have made is the amount of food we could be producing if we weren’t producing meat, we are gonna have 10 billion people soon, our diets will be interesting when there isn’t enough food.
Erik, the issue with that argument is that there’s no shortage of food now, and yet there are many hungry people. There’s just no provision in our profit-driven food supply system for delivering food to hungry people who have no money to pay for it.
If the demand for meat goes down, farmers won’t grow instead massive quantities of grains and beans to ship to faraway countries at their own expense. They’ll grow boutique vegetables that demand a higher price domestically or as a luxury export.
You’re doing a terrific job, DM, thanks.
I’m 75 in great health wanting to stay around while it continues to be fun, so when someone pointed me to TCH, I really ate it up and have in fact gone plant-based whole foods totally. Your analysis interests me for obvious reasons.
Looking over the charts here (for which much, much thanks) I find two points in support of TCH and would love to have someone come back at me on the topic.
1. Both groups take in little total protein as % of calories. Maybe 11 to 12 for the red team and under 9 for blue. While TCH clearly prefers veggies, its arguments go mostly in terms of % of calories in total protein without regard to source. See chapter 3 notably. Both teams are doing very well, especially by western standards. So TCH would think the red/blue difference due to something other than meat consumption.
2. If you think ratio of plant to animal protein, both teams probably come out very well in TCH terms — which is g/g, while I can only find %/% in your charts. (I still haven’t tried the TCH data myself. Ought to do that.) Look, for instance, at chart 10.2 in TCH. Both teams would likely be well down bottom right on that.
So something other than conformity to the low-protein intake (preferably plant based) recommendations of TCH seems to be involved in the high HD mortality rates. The wheat flour intake is certainly suggestive — I wonder how much fructose is involved in that? (We should all read The Sugar Fix by Richard Johnson to see the special dangers of fructose over a certain level in our diets — they relate especially to heart disease and diabetes and might apply to the red team.)
Keep up the good work, but remember, it’s %calories protein not just meat versus plant. Milk and cheese are also animal protein sources.
I’m very happy. I really love your website. Keep up the good work!!!
Genuine science will always admit uncertainty and vast unknowns. There are many nutrients not even idenified by science yet, let alone how they all interct synergistically to produce health.
The knowns are far less than the unknowns about nutrition. ALL food is a risk, ALL food is a minefield. All of our dietary decisions carry risk.
Variety is one of the most important nutritional concepts, along with the understanding we do not completely know what is healthful yet.
I strongly recommend Urgelt of YouTube.
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Your agenda is quite clear. Dr. William Castelli himself said the vegetarian diet is the most healthful. I have video proof. Would you like it? Or how about your readers?
I’ve read that also from an interview with Dr. Castelli.
I think you ARE a very mighty – and very mad and crazy and hate filled – genius!
Read your TCS book article – excellent. Same for USDA guidelines article. Same for the articles in this wheat/HD series.
Pity that narrow-minded people at Wiki and spammers here appear intent upon belittling your hard work.
Ms. Minger, all other calumny aside, one must admit (unless your photo is a fraud) you are both “pretty” and “young”. These failings, together with intelligence, integrity, and self-discipline, necessarily render you a justifiable object of scorn to those whose share of such qualities is slight.
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