Nutrition: It’s Health Effect Is Broader than Generally Known


Rekha Chaudhary, MD, left, a neuro-oncologist at the UC Cancer Institute, brought Dr. Campbell to UC. At right is Cathy Crain of Cincinnati Opera.

One of the most important measures we can take to protect ourselves from cancer is to take a bold new look at the food we eat. That was the message from T. Colin Campbell, PhD, the guest lecturer at hematology-oncology grand rounds March 28 at the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies. Dr. Campbell, professor emeritus at Cornell University, is the author of The China Study and Whole and the movie Forks over Knives. (The word “knives” in the movie title refers to surgical scalpels.)

“Whether the seeds of cancer grow into a tumor is largely a function of nutrition,” Dr. Campbell said.

Drawing on research that dates back to 1926, Dr. Campbell presented multiple studies that showed that animals exposed to a carcinogen remained healthy if they consumed a diet with no more than 10 percent animal protein. Meanwhile, a diet with 20 percent or more animal protein led to spikes in cancer growth. He said that health research in humans has been compromised by a focus on fat intake and individual nutrients.

He writes in The China Study that people who eat a whole-food, plant-based diet, who avoid animal protein (beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and milk) and who limit their intake of processed foods will reduce their risk of developing numerous diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. In some cases, Dr. Campbell writes, they may even reverse the disease process.

The challenge, Dr. Campbell acknowledged in his lecture, is that we don’t want to hear that we should consume less animal protein. “We love protein,” he said. “We want more.”

It is plants, however, that provide all of our antioxidants, all of our complex carbohydrates and most of our vitamins. We get almost no vitamins from animals, he noted.

The minimum daily requirement of protein, known since the 1930s and 1940s, is 8 to 9 percent, and Dr. Campbell said we can get this entire minimum requirement of protein from plants.

Ours is a society that has valued knives for surgery over forks for eating, Dr. Campbell said. As a result, “Trillions of dollars have been misspent; science has been distorted; lives have been lost; and the environment has been degraded.”

In conclusion, Dr. Campbell addressed his audience with a call to action: “You don’t need to believe it,” he said. “Just try it.”



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