Debunked – The China Study

I’m going to keep this EXTREMELY brief, and very simplified. If it’s too simplified for people’s liking let me know, but I don’t want to bog people down with information. Comment with thoughts, suggestions, other studies you’d like to know about, or more areas to read about the china study.

What is The China Study?

When discussing an all meat diet, I’ve heard The China Study brought up numerous times. I wouldn’t say all of the science in it is bad, but the author makes conclusions you can’t make, generalizes, and leads readers to the WRONG conclusion.

The China Study is actually a book written about a number of “studies”. Dr. T. Cloin Campbell of Cornell University and some of his colleagues studied the diet hundreds of thousands of people in China. They ended up publishing that animal protein contributed to a plethora of disease. This was a gross inaccuracy on his part for the reasons listed below, and contributed to God knows how much suffering.

Where did it go wrong?

  • Campbell links “animal protein” to cancer and autoimmune disorder’s. The studies in the book linking “animal protein” to disease, are done based on casein (a protein in cow’s milk). He generalizes and instead of being clear “casein causes…..” he writes that “animal protein causes….” This is wrong. Casein and meat are NOT the same AT ALL. He discusses casein causing Type 1 diabetes but doesn’t talk about gluten’s role in Type 1 diabetes, or fructose’s role in insulin resistance, or sugars role for that matter. The main mistake he makes, that caused God knows how much suffering, is lumping casein and meat together.
  • Campbell doesn’t look into carb consumption or sugar consumption. He omitted information in order to get the result he wanted. This book could easily have been just as popular if he didn’t omit key information, and was specific that he was talking about casein (not animal protein in general).
  • He suggests limiting cholesterol food to ZERO. We’re slowly finding out that cholesterol actually isn’t bad for you, and suggesting people eat zero of it is ridiculous. We need cholesterol to form our steroid hormones, process vitamin D, and form cell membranes.

Where did it go right?

Casein is linked to cancer and autoimmune disorders. I suggest avoiding dairy almost as much as I suggest avoiding gluten. But lumping dairy in with meat is a huge mistake. They are not the same.

What we can take away from it:

Be careful what you read. Most studies on diet are done badly and lead people to the wrong conclusions. Casein (dairy) should be avoided.

Further reading on The China Study:

This is an easy read that’s very comprehensive

Chris Kresser wrote a blog post about it, and it’s really worth reading. It covers way more than this oversimplified post.

Some readers have mentioned Michael Greger and This is one of the (many) reasons I think that doctor is a crook. He’s looking for anything that supports what he believes instead of looking for the truth. Compare what he writes to what Chris Kresser writes about The China Study and see for yourself. He lists The China Study as some of the evidence of plant-based diet without actually looking into the science behind it.


47 thoughts on “Debunked – The China Study

  1. Steph says:

    If you want to read a really great debunking of the China Study from several years ago, check out Denise Minger’s blog. She got a book deal out of it and wrote “Death by Food Pyramid”. Dr Campbell also got really upset about her blog and I believe they got into a big argument on Amazon in his book review section. Funny thing is she was an English major in college at the time she debunked it. Campbell was pissed! It was some great internet drama back in the day.

  2. Fernanda says:

    It’s unfortunate the vegan gurus, and their devotees, keep spreading pseudoscience..If that was not enough, they are always, trolling on youtube, insulting people who eat meat.

    • Mikael says:

      I’m skeptical about people who have vegan in their username. Seems like they identify with it too much. I mean they would have to risk sacrifice their persona if they were to be critical about the vegan diet(/life style).

      • Matthew Pickering says:

        Using your system of logic, can we not say that we must sacrifice our current persona/frame of reference regardless of if we are vegan or a meat eater/omnivore? This is the continual process of death and rebirth of what we know in relation to new information that presents itself. If we use that same logical process in regards to an omnivore, we can say that one risks sacrificing their persona around cultural norms of eating meat. An example would be the cultural ties one has to meat. It surely is quite a transition to make these kinds of changes(Thanksgiving, Christmas, social gatherings, etc.). I suffered from an auto-immune disease for years until I switched to a whole food plant based diet. It can be very easy to focus our attention on the extremities of what the media portrays (in this case group identity such as veganism) instead of conducting a throughout examination of both the opinions, ideas, and scientific literature behind both sides to create a well rounded, minimally unbiased opinion. I would highly advise that you give a vegan diet a try; more specifically a whole food plant based diet. If you end up doing so, make sure to take a vitamin b-12 supplement daily. Sometimes our direct experience with something can trump all the controversy. You ultimately have nothing to lose and you might find life altering benefits out of it as I did. 🙂

        • Mikael says:

          I wouldn’t call myself a vegan or an omnivore because I don’t identify myself based on my diet. I would say that I’m on a vegan/omnivorous diet. Feels wrong to say that I AM something instead och DOING something when eating a vegan diet is just something you DO.

        • Kenn Macdonald says:

          Hi Matthew Pickering
          1) Mikhaila comment was about people who put the word ‘vegan’ in their username, and this appears to publicly declare an emotional identification with a diet/lifestyle/morality. Looks like virtue signalling to me. That is all Mikhaila said, and I agree with her statement, but you seem to have reacted to her statement, and not thought about it.
          2)You advice to Mikhaila that she give the vegan diet a ‘try’ tells me you have not read, or understood, Mikhaila’s blog at all. If you were to read what she has spent so much time researching and writing about, you would realize how inappropriate your advice is. Mikhaila writes this blog based on her bodies experience of the food she eats, and her research is an attempt to understand what happens to her body when she eats certain foods. Please go to the first post, and read from there.

    • Matthew Pickering says:

      I will add that I saw tremendous progress on a ketogenic diet but the symptoms did not fully go away until a transitioned to a whole food low fat plant based diet oil free.

  3. You are correct. Nutrition information from a vegan is worthless. They became vegans because they did not believe in using animals for food. No problem with that. But then they have to justify being a vegan (and convert people to their vegan religion) by making up stuff like cholesterol will kill you.

    I actually met T. Colin Campbell recently. I guess he is “healthy,” but he is gaunt and looks like he has one foot in the grave.

  4. StruanM says:

    Hi Mikhaila,

    My wife has sever health complications specifically relating to diet (we’re still getting to the bottom of it). She is much more tolerant of less fatty meats like chicken and game than beef and pork (lamb is out of the question). Is this a common thing for people with dietary problems? Are less fatty meats more easily tolerated, generally?

    We have tried the GAPS diet (its a real doozy) which is basically bone broth from either beef bones or chicken bones for a week straight and that was very hard on her. We shan’t be repeating that experience. The SCD diet was better, but still not ideal.

    • Kenn Macdonald says:

      Hi StuanM.
      If fatty meat is a problem, it might be because we are not used to digesting fat. I found it helpful to take a Lipase (fat digesting enzyme) until my own enzymes could get up and running. Beef bones are better for broth I think, especially if you’ve cracked them to expose the marrow, or the marrow is already exposed. Chicken bones(especially chicken feet) are OK, but not as good as beef bones(marrow and knuckles), oxtail, good info here also

  5. Carl S says:

    Would be interesting to hear about your efforts to find a common underlying problem with the foods you can and can’t eat.

    Personally i am looking in to histamine. My food sensitivity’s seam to map decently to the histamine food list’s.

      • Carl s says:

        I’m I have read about that, but the fact that raisins make me feel really bad made me think diffrent. But now going through it in my mind that could be sugar rushes followed by really low blood sugar levels.

        Lactose is the only one food I get instant (a few hours) noticeable physical effect from digestion issues and gas.

        I used to have problems with the skin flaking on my fingers for years, that went away when I stoped eating gluten.

        My current thinking is that I will need to do an elimination diet like mikhaila, but that seams like a big big thing.

  6. Awesome work Michaila! Of course you pulled out all the vegan fanatics out of the cave–that was to be expected. I applaud you for your bravery and “saying it as it is”. I am fighting a similar war to you–and as a scientist, it is not any easier.

    Congrats for your recovery, and keep on digging! You will make a huge difference!

  7. Awesome work Michaila! Of course you pulled out all the vegan fanatics out of the cave–that was to be expected. I applaud you for your bravery and “saying it as it is”. I am fighting a similar war to you–and as a scientist, it is not any easier.

    Congrats for your recovery, and keep on digging! You will make a huge difference!

  8. Meat eater says:

    michael gregor belongs to a vegan society with all those other doctor’s whose mission to convert everyone to veganism. All of his ‘research’ samples are bias toward vegan living. For example he says eggs are ‘toxic’ and cause heart disease and cherry picks research to support that. Many societies rely on eggs, indonesia for example and other non meat eating societies like india. If you look at the longest lived people (actual real people who make it past 80, for example), you might find they eat eggs. Genetics is a huge factor in your natural lifespan, smoking and too much alcohol will cut it short though. Stress causes cancer and heart disease, which is why a lot of the ex servicemen and women suffer these things early in life comparatively. So The china study was proven to be a fraud for various reasons but again the basic dysfunction is we are all looking for utopia and want to pay anything to read about it and find it. It’s in your genetics really. A healthy balanced diet, not orthorexia, has always been the advice. The heart foundation and the government dietician food pyramid which has been synthesised out of over five thousand pieces of research and analysed by real researches who know how to read studies and look for flaws, have concluded eggs in moderation belong in healthy balanced diet. My mother is 82, has no heart disease, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, she’s not overweight and has no arthritis. She lives independently. Doctors don’t need to see her. She is medication free. She walks for an hour a day briskly. She eats eggs. Meat. Milk. No cancer. Her siblings who smoked and drank heavily all dead. Same situation on my father’s side. He is 92. He eats eggs for breakfast every single day. He’s fit, independent and has no diseases. He’s a milk drinker. NO cancer. His siblings who smoked and drank heavily are all dead too, in their 70s. Look to the Queen of England, she’ll reach a hundred as her mother did. Her sister, who smoke and drank heavily, died young.

    • rose says:

      Looks like eggs are indeed toxic according to IgG tests, for most people at least… I haven’t heard of a person who those test and eggs did not show up.

    • Mike says:

      China Study was the largest which has ever been performed.
      It showed a clear pattern of Cancer rates and types of cancer, based on the diet of the people.

      The dozens of cities and districts tested had a clear and provable pattern. It is likely the best Scientific Data ever recorded.

      You are either not sincere, or did not read the study. Otherwise, you would not make such statements.

      – Read the study and make up your own mind –

    • Mike says:

      China Study was the largest which has ever been performed.
      It showed a clear pattern of Cancer rates and types of cancer, based on the diet of the people.

      The dozens of cities and districts tested had a clear and provable pattern. It is likely the best Scientific Data ever recorded.

      You are either not sincere, or did not read the study. Otherwise, you would not make such statements.

      – Read the study and make up your own mind –

      • Kenn Macdonald says:

        Ni Mike.
        So what do you think about conflating casein protein with animal protein? (You did read Mikhaila’s post, didn’t you?) Do you think that substituting animal protein for casein protein in the China Study is useful?

  9. Meat eater says:

    Here’s a summary that shows an association of dairy and cancer in prostate but not other cancers, from nutrition journal

    Dairy products intake and cancer mortality risk: a meta-analysis of 11 population-based cohort studies

    Wei Lu†, Hanwen Chen†, Yuequn Niu, Han Wu, Dajing XiaEmail author and Yihua WuEmail author
    †Contributed equally
    Nutrition Journal201615:91© The Author(s). 2016
    Received: 20 May 2016Accepted: 12 October 2016Published: 21 October 2016

  10. Juan Dominguez says:

    Ms Peterson. I think you oversimplify the thesis of Doctor Campbell. First he goes beyond just linking animal protein to casein. He explains that Animal protein is an (efficient) protein. That is that it is very competent and potent in being a building block for cell replication. To the contrary, vegetable protein is not that efficient. There is a reason why body builders and athletes use animal protein like whey and creatine to repair muscle. It is highly efficient.

    When you introduce a carcinogen into the body, you introduce a sort of virus that starts to help replicate bad cell or over replicates. That same animal protein that’s so efficient in building positive healthy cells is not discriminatory and in this regard neither is the vegetable protein. But it’s the animal protein that will speed up the cancer growth rate.

    As far as mentioning Michael Gregor being a quack that’s unfortunate. You should consider his awesome work, and if you’re still a meat eating enthusiast, that’s fine. You mentioned auto immune diseases that you and Dr Peterson share, and he had an interesting video on yeast and it’s role in Celiac, Hidradentitis Suppurative and Arthritis. Check it out! ‘

    • Kenn Macdonald says:

      Hi Juan Dominguez
      I think we all need to understand how our bodies work, and what they need to work optimally, rather than becoming emotionally committed to one point of view from an ‘expert’. I invite us to explore biochemistry, even quantum biology, in order to improve our understanding of what our bodies need. This can be quite difficult if one comes across information that appears to contradict our beliefs, and we have to make a decision then whether to be open to new information, or not. My point of view is that being open to new information increases my understanding, and a better understanding is a better life.

  11. rose says:

    Looks like eggs are indeed toxic according to IgG tests, for most people at least… I haven’t heard of a person who those test and eggs did not show up.

  12. Fernanda says:

    I tiny proportion of the population is lactose intolerant, most of them are self-diagnoses. Cheese, cream and butter have been unfairly demonised.
    Our bodies are our labs, by trying different foods we can see how we feel and how the body responds to it.
    I suffered from sinusitis for years until I started a LCHF diet and in 10 days all symptoms vanished. And the diet was/is high in cheese, cream and butter.

  13. Mike says:

    I hope you are having a good day.

    – The China study is the largest of its type, which has ever been performed.

    – Dr. Campbell has worked with thousands of people which used his methods and found results.

    – Not all Meat is equal – Research into the GMO’s, preservatives, antibiotics and other methods used.

    – Yes, Dairy was proven beyond a doubt by the Study to increase Cancer risk.

    – There is nothing comparable to the China Study for Gluten. In fact, it is merely an opinion to stay otherwise.

    – Your Dad is a Scientist and he follows the evidence. Let your dad look at the China Study and attempt to find an error. The Science is pure and concrete.

    Thank you.

    • Kenn Macdonald says:

      Hi Mike
      I suspect you have not read any critiques of the China Study, for if you had then you would not be writing what you write. If you had read the data behind the China Study, instead of the interpretation of the data, your understanding might be different, non? I understand you are firmly committed to your point of view. Mikhaila is not firmly committed to her present point of view, she is committed to surviving and thriving and taking care of her new baby. To that end she has found a diet that allows her to do so, and has researched why that might be so, and her point of view will change as she continues to research and test her understanding with her diet/lifestyle.

  14. Dennis says:

    I’m kinda bummed to hear that casein is linked to cancer. (What can I say; I love dairy.) Can you point to any solid research that corroborates this? Thanks for your work. Very interesting.

  15. Steve K. says:

    Most of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver and a small amount from your food.
    My gut feel is cholesterol levels go out of whack because of a lifelong sedentary lifestyle… sitting too much on your butt and not stressing your body with grinding, laborious work… symptomatic of the bureaucratic class pushing pencils/pens.

  16. Mike says:

    Good Evening,

    I hope you are having a good day. Kenn, I hope you follow Dr. Peterson. His most famous interview to date is with Kathy Newman. Her tactic of Ad Hominem “strawman” was comical at best, and dangerous at worst. “So what your saying is” has become an internet meme. Read your comment back, and ask yourself, if you are doing the same?

    The story of Mikalia is inspiring. I hope many people realize, the power the human body has.

    I studied the China Study in detail, and have lived on a Plant-Based lifestyle for 7 months. I do not mention my personal experience or others, as I wish to stick to the topic.

    The truth is my main aim. My research has found, there are four big problems with the SAD(Standard American Diet)

    – Sugar

    – Dairy

    – Meat

    – Eggs

    Conclusion: My intention, is to get to the truth.

  17. Pete Hamm says:

    Just a thought about dietary studies based on china and milk. Isn’t that absurd to compare to europe considering how recently milk has been introduced into the asian diet.

  18. Healthy Living says:

    Here is a 1-hour debate between the Keto and the Plant-based lifestyle.

    A friendly discussion between Kip Andersen, Dave Asprey, and Dr. Joel Kahn. The question they explore is, “what is the ideal diet?” Each guest approaches this subject in a very different way, and we hope that the dialogue between them can bring more clarity to this perennial question.

    Kip Andersen is the director of the documentary “What the Health;” Dave Asprey is the author of “The Bulletproof Diet;” and Dr. Joel Kahn is the author of “The Whole Heart Solution.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *