The China Study
MOST COMPREHENSIVE LARGE STUDY EVER UNDERTAKEN ON
DIET AND DISEASE. THE NEW YORK TIMES
DATE OF PUBLICATION: ................ 2002
China Study stands unique among research projects delving into the
relationship of diet to disease and death. This massive international
study of diet, lifestyle, and disease was primarily done in rural
provinces of China.
study was undertaken by Cornell University, Oxford University, two
senior Chinese research academies in Beijing, provincial health teams,
and the National Science Council of Taiwan in Taipei.
Study I: This was the initial study. The first part of the study
surveyed 6,500 people, and was done in 1973-1975. This surveyed the
amount of deaths associated with four dozen different diseases,
including a dozen different cancers and four different types of heart
disease. In 1983-1984, a dietary and lifestyle survey was incorporated
into that data, making it far more useful.
Study II: This was the replicated study. In the late 1980s and early
1990s, the survey was repeated. The causes of death were determined for
8 million people! The dietary survey was also repeated, with even more
people,including those living on Taiwan. The total number surveyed in
China II was 10,000 people and their families.
studies included 367 items of information with over 140,000
correlations. About 50 of those correlations have been studied in some
initial questions drove the analyses of all the data: First, Why did
these chronic degenerative diseases occur in some parts of the country,
but not in others? Second, What are the multiple relationships between
diet and disease?
key points that made this study so outstanding: First, it was so
massive, involving close to 20 million people and their families.
Second, there was such a wide range of diets, dietary intakes, and a
full range of disease prevalencefrom very little to very much.
to this study, most studies had been done on people living in Western
nations, most of whom were eating diets either rich in animal products,
or almost wholly animal-based. In contrast, the China Study included
both people who ate limited amounts of animal products and those who ate
only plant-based diets.
are eight principle findings of this massive study:
- People tend to get the diseases of the region to which they move,
even before they start intermarrying with those native to the region.
Therefore, genetics definitely plays a much smaller part in disease
incidence than was once considered.
more than 2 to 3% can be attributed to genetics. For example, when
Japanese move to America, they start getting breast cancer and heart
disease in rates consistent with the rest of Americans. If those
diseases run in families, it tends to be due more to the diet of those
families, rather than to their genes.
- There is a linear relationship between consumption of animal foods
and disease states. As the first increases, the second also
- In China, there was up to a one-hundredfold difference in cancer
incidence between different localities. Cancer, therefore, is a
local disease in China, whereas in the United States, where we tend to
eat on a population basis rather than a local basis, cancer is a
national affliction because it is so widespread and common. In America,
because this twofold difference is scattered throughout the nation, it
is more difficult to trace from cause to effect.
- There is a dramatic difference in diet between that of rural China
vs. the typical American diet. Here are several key differences:
get 36% of their calories from fat. In China it is only 14%. Americans
eat 10 times more animal-flesh protein than do the Chinesea major
difference. The Chinese eat three times more fiber than Americans. The
Chinese diet is rich in plant-based foods; the American diet is very
rich in animal-based foods. The Chinese high blood cholesterol is
near the American low blood cholesterol level. In China, the
average is 127. Heart disease is virtually unknown in regions where
cholesterol is under 150.
is almost no obesity. The Chinese have 25-30% less body mass than
Americans, although they consume 30% more calories.
study also compared similar physical exertion levels in the two
nationalities. A plant-based diet plus moderate exercise resulted in
rare obesityunless the individual was loading up on poor calorie
sources such as pastas and sugar-laden sweets.
- The overwhelming majority of these relationships clearly show that
as soon as animal food starts to appear in the dieteven small
amounts,things start to go haywire and these diseases begin to
appear. Cholesterol levels start to go up.
- The corollary is that the richer the diet is in the kinds and
amounts of nutrients provided by foods of plant origin, the risk of
chronic degenerative diseases is proportionally reduced in every
- Breast cancer is lower in China than in America, but one can
see pockets of it in China.
- Breast cancer is related to the age of menarche (the age of
first menstrual periods). The average age of menarche in China is 17
years (between 15 and 19 years old). In the U.S., it begins at 10 to 11
years of age. We know from many studies that as women get periods
earlier, it is couple with higher risks of breast cancer. The age of
menarche has dropped in America because growth rates are speeded up by
making sure children get plenty of protein for healthy bodies and
milk for its calcium for strong bones. But these are false ideas, and
bigger is not necessarily better. Vegan children grow almost as fast. If
the growth rate is slowed, there will be later menarche and less breast
- The higher the level of antioxidants in the blood, the less disease
there will be. Antioxidants are obtainable only from plants.
- Not only is a plant-based diet effective in reducing heart disease,
but also cancer.
2001, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., gave a lecture on the China Study.
He is head of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. The above
data was part of that lecture. Here is additional information he
have been many similar studies in the professional literature for many
years, although not often publicized like this one. When the totality
of the evidence is examined in this comprehensive way, without focusing
on individual nutrients . . the evidence is astounding . . and
example, John McDougall, M.D., arrived at the same conclusions from a
different perspective when trying to help his patients. Caldwell
Eselston, M.D., lifetime surgeon at the Cleveland Institute (one of the
top five medical schools in America) invited 24 people with severe heart
disease to participate in a study. Among the 18 who agreed were 49
coronary events in the previous eight years, including
angioplasty, bypass surgery, and heart attack. The 18 people were placed
on a 100% vegan diet (plus multistatin). [sp ok] After 16 years, none of
the 18 had died! During that 16 years, there were no coronary events!
Ornish conducted a similar study, but used yogurt and some animal
protein. He had good results, but not as good as Eselstons. The
Hildebrand study focused on the use of the Gerson Treatment
(plant-based) for melanoma. The diet has substantial effects in
controlling the advance of the cancer and mortalities of melanoma
T. Colin Campbell researched a plant-based diets effect on athletic
ability. In literature going back to Plato, Socrates, and Pythagoras, it
was written that if competitors wanted to be in top condition, they
should eat plant-based diets. Dr. Campbell spoke with world-class
athletes who are vegan, including Dave Scott (Iron Man triathlon
champion for several years), and Chris Campbell (no relation; world
champion wrestler for 4 years). Other vegan world-class athletes include
Martina Navritalovna and Carl Moses. [sps ok]
Nurses Health Study, done on 80,000 nurses by Harvard University,
would appear to discredit the China Studys finding of a correlation
between less fat intake and lower breast cancer rate.
closer examination of the data, however, reveals the following:
Nurses Study started with very high fat intake levels, then reduced
the intake. The range was from 49% or more fat in the diet down to 29%.
In China, the range was 24% to 6%. What became obvious to the China
researchers is that, in the Nurses Study, as the women reduced their
fat intake form 45-50% to 25-30%, as requested, they did so via lowfat
milk, yogurt, etc., so they were still getting animal protein. As a
matter of fact, their animal protein intake increased as a result of
their efforts to eat low-fat sources! Although there was a slight
decrease in animal fat intake, there was an increased consumption of
animal foods. The conclusions drawn do not reflect input from the
information excluded from the study, which nonetheless impacted
significantly on the study. Therefore the conclusions cannot be