I had the great honour of meeting Dr. Campbell this year in Abano Terme, Italy. What a great man, and so humble too.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. He was one of the lead scientists in the 1980s of The China Project, the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted, and described by The New York Times as "the Grand Prix of epidemiology.” Quite fitting really, since the survey collected information about cancer death rates from 880 million people in 2,400 counties around the country and involved 650,000 workers. Now that’s a lot of data!
Dr. Campbell has over 50 years of experience in the field of nutrition, and has spent a great part of these years researching the correlation between diet and disease.
During his studies and research Dr. Campbell began to question the role of animal protein in the diet and its links to the promotion of diseases such as cancer.
In the early years of his career he spent time in the Philippines where he worked on a project working with malnourished children. It came to light that there was an unusually high rate of liver cancer among young Filipino children, and whilst at that time it was believed that malnourished people not eating enough protein were the ones to fall sick, the children that were dying of liver cancer were those that came from the wealthiest families, those that consumed more animal protein.
Around the same time, Dr. Campbell came across a small Indian study which showed that a diet high in protein promoted cancer growth in rats. The Indian study was thought-provoking, to say the least, especially after the liver cancer, high protein connection in the Philippines, so Dr. Campbell decided to repeat the study in his own lab.
-Two groups of rats were given aflatoxin, a cancer-causing toxin.
-One group was fed a diet consisting of 20% animal protein.
-The other group was fed a diet consisting of just 5% animal protein.
-Every single rat in the 20% animal protein diet group (30 out of 30) developed pre-cancerous cells.
-Every single rat in the 5% animal protein diet (0 out of 12) DID NOT develop any pre-cancerous cells.
When the two groups had their diets switched, the cancerous cells appeared in the 20% animal protein diet each time, and they stopped growing with the 5% animal protein diet. As Dr. Campbell says, these were 100% to 0% results. The animal protein that they were using? Casein. Milk protein. The same tests were done by using vegetable protein rather than animal protein and they found that even at 20%, the vegetable protein diet did not induce any pre-cancerous cells.
These findings went against everything Dr. Campbell had previously believed. Having grown up on a dairy farm in Virginia, he had been convinced that cow’s milk was of upmost nutritional value and yet here he was, looking at results which showed that milk protein actually promoted cancer growth.
This very suggestive and even provocative data led Dr. Campbell on his quest to learn more about the correlation between diet and disease and to educate the public on his findings.
Dr. Campbell is the author of over 300 research papers and the books “The China Study” (2005), “Whole” (2013) and “The Low-Carb Fraud” (Feb 2014). He features in the award-winning documentary “Forks Over Knives” and “Plant Pure Nation”, a 2015 documentary.
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