The China Study, T Colin Campbell PhD & Thomas M Campbell MD

A funny old world: a place of conflicting information, messages and opinions – what is real and to be believed and what are to be shunned or ignored? I’m now well past the 3-year all-clear anniversary of breast caner, a condition that I could I never have imagined, appointments and treatment were simply going through the motions. It was an interesting observation of those around me – some who unable to cope with the idea walked away, some offered moral support at the time, some are still here and I am indebted to a few who know who they are; I can never sufficiently thank the friend who relentlessly supported my daughter or those who were and are still ‘just’ there…

The discovery and treatment were the critical moments and thankfully I was and remain blessed to have a first-rate medical team but these ’visual’ moments are, with hindsight, the easy days – care is given over to the experts and nothing was required of me except to look and act as normal, suppressing a torrent of emotion to appear strong and in control – chin up, get on with it, life as normal without giving to vulnerability and weakness. Health care in France is amazing – discovery to surgery was the matter of weeks but in the Paris region, I was unable to find Anglophone welfare support so instead relied on the UK’s McMillan phone lines for information, questions such as “is it normal to feel numb and detached?” But I soon discovered that it is the time following treatment when friendly care and support is critical; medically, things are swept into their rightful box but a feeling of helplessness remains; the why’s and what if’s are a huge part of my recent life and sometimes just need to talk…

The China Study by Colin Campbell PhD and Thomas Campbell MD, a recommendation from a caring friend has sat on my shelf, unopened and unread for a couple of years but devoured over the last couple of days. Admittedly, its description as “the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted” made it appear yet another ’crank’ money-motivated book or fad-diet but I was wrong… The result of years of research that’s presented in an easy-to-read manner, Campbell discusses our contemporary Western diet and lifestyle and its implications on health and disease, backed by well-documented peer-reviewed studies and overwhelming statistics. This is not a ‘diet’ book but instead is a path forward to a healthy lifestyle in a world of conflicting information and mis-information.

He strips away the nonsense of recent crazes such as Atkins and South Beach diets, government and industry sponsored research and the notion of focusing on individual nutrients and instead discusses ‘whole foods’ in relation to common ailments such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes and obesity: we don’t eat a particular vitamin or mineral, we eat an apple or a slice of bread.

The focus of the book, as the title suggests, is The China Study which began:

“In the early 1970’s, the premier of China, Chou Enlai was dying of cancer and initiated a nationwide survey to collect information about a disease that was not well understood. It was to be a monumental survey of death rates for 12 different kinds of cancer for more than 2,400 Chinese countries and 880 million (96%) of their citizens…. “

The resulting atlas showed that cancer in China was geographically localized though 87% of the population is the same ethnic group; the countries with the highest rates of cancers were more than 100 times greater than in the countries with the lowest rates and in comparison, in the U.S. there is a variable of 2 to 3 times the cancer rate from one part of the country to another.

“Because China is relatively homogenous genetically, it was clear that these differences had to be explained by environmental causes. This raised a number of critical questions:

What was cancer so high in some rural Chinese countries and not others?
Why were these differences so incredibly large?
Why was overall cancer, in the aggregate, less common in china than in the U.S.?”

Campbell discusses the diseases of poverty and affluence and holds no particular ‘disease’ in isolation but instead suggests a natural, plant based whole food diet (without supplements) for the benefit of the body as a whole. Peer-reviewed research from scientific publications supports his work: The China Study is his legacy but Dr. Campbell is Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and has received more than 70 grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding and authorized more than 300 research papers. The China Study was the culmination of a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine.

No longer in denial of cancer – yes it happened to me and I survived. The past is The Past but this research gives me hope and security that I can determine my own future and in my own way. This is a book that everybody should read; we all have cancer cells within our body and I am one of the ‘unfortunates’ because they clustered and Campbell’s research sets out contributing factors.

A tiny investment of a few £’s and a couple of days of reading…