Friday, July 9, 2010

On Being a Vegetarian, Eating Raw and the China Study

One of my favorite nutrition blogs is called The Whole Health Source. It is well researched, thoughtful information about nutrition. I can't get enough of it, really.

Today, The Whole Health Source posted on China Study Problems of Interpretation. The China Study was an observational study in China of 65 different regions, used as a main source by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who wrote a book called The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long Term Health, a book which promotes a vegetarian diet and warns that any consumption of animal protein causes increased cancer rates. On the book is actually titled: The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and The Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long Term Health. Dr. Campbell's book is all about how eating ANY meat is bad for your health and increases your risk of cancer and eating plant based protein lowers your risk for cancer.

The Whole Health Source mentioned that when the data from the study was examined by Denise Minger, who wrote an AMAZING overview of what she found when she crunched the raw data from the China Study, was that wheat was actually correlated with cancer more than animal products. Her lengthy assessment of The China Study, which painstakingly looks at the data, finds that the data from the study does not support Campbell's claim which promotes a vegetarian, non meat diet as a way to reduce cancer risk. Her interpretation can be found on her blog Raw Rood SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet.

I spent an hour reading Denise Minger's interpretation of the data and looking at the detailed charts. Near the end, there is a section titled Sins of Omission. In it, Denise Minger writes:

"Perhaps more troubling than the distorted facts in “The China Study” are the details Campbell leaves out.

Why does Campbell indict animal foods in cardiovascular disease (correlation of +1 for animal protein and -11 for fish protein), yet fail to mention that wheat flour has a correlation of +67 with heart attacks and coronary heart disease, and plant protein correlates at +25 with these conditions?

Speaking of wheat, why doesn’t Campbell also note the astronomical correlations wheat flour has with various diseases: +46 with cervix cancer, +54 with hypertensive heart disease, +47 with stroke, +41 with diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs, and the aforementioned +67 with myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease? (None of these correlations appear to be tangled with any risk-heightening variables, either.)"

Both Stephen Guyenet and Denise Minger are researchers who really know their stuff--they crunch numbers and make charts. They aren't making this stuff up. (And, unlike me, they aren't promoting a gluten free diet--so they are obviously more objective than I am!)

I thought I would post the association between wheat consumption and cancer that Minger found as well as the possible association between wheat flour replacing rice and rising obesity rates in China, that Guyenet writes about because they are interpretations which suggest two more reasons why giving up gluten (which includes wheat) might be a good idea for our overall health.


Anonymous said...

My coworker is from the Philippines and found out she was allergic to what and couldn't remember eating bread or wheat as a child, so it makes sense to her now that she cannot eat gluten.

The China Study was done in China with people who for centuries only ate non gluten ingredients. This study needs to be done in North America first because we are what we eat and have adapted to the food that is native to our land.

Can someone do this and get back to me? I would like to know that for me being raised in America (with ancestors from American Indians and Europeans) I should be concerned and be gluten free.


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