Okay, so this is the long awaited final post about The China Study! Wahoo, only about a month late. I woke up this morning feeling like crap. I worked a half day at work because I needed to get a few things done and then I went home and slept all afternoon. I didn’t do my bike workout tonight. I hate missing workouts but with the 10 miler on Sunday it definitely makes sense to skip the workout and rest. Hopefully, I will kick this cold by Sunday!
Part IV: Why Haven’t You Heard This Before
The last section of the book talks mostly about the dirty business of science. Most people probably have the image of a nerdy scientist in a white lab coat and wire glasses with a flask in one hand and a pipette in another. What they don’t know is how dirty science is, especially when politics and publishing scientific articles comes into play. During my undergraduate years I spent all my summer vacations at various research labs conducting summer research projects. My first internship was after my freshmen year of college and it was spent at a local research center. At the end of 10 weeks we had to present our results (or lack of results and yes it does happen in science!) to anyone in the facility who wanted to watch (which was pretty much everyone). I was nervous as hell. I was presenting my research project in front of numerous well respected PhD people and their grad students. My presentation went without a hitch and I wasn’t asked any hard questions that I couldn’t answer on my own. However, one student presented his project and then was asked numerous very hard and technical questions by one particular principal investigator (the PhD scientists who run each of the labs). I later found out that this PI was in a “feud” with the PI that the student worked with. Science is full of petty stuff like that. Scientists have huge egos! Okay, now back to the book!
Chapter 13: Science-The Dark Side
In 1979 Campbell was asked to join the Public Nutrition Information Committee within the American Institute of Nutrition. During this time another committee was being formed within another organization at the prestigious National Academy of Science (NAS). It was well known by the scientific community that the internal NAS Food and Nutrition Board was heavily influenced by the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Many of its members served as consultants for the industries and thus there was a known, but not acknowledged conflict of interest. Now clearly if someone is making 10% of their income from the egg industry obviously they will not claim that eggs are bad but in fact eggs are great and we should all eat a dozen a day! Well, maybe not that much, but you get the picture. This is a really great chapter and one that I think everyone should read. In a nutshell (because I could go on for days about this topic), once politics and lobbyists enter the picture, good science sometimes is ignored. Is this right? Of course not! That’s why if you read an article claiming that eating hamburgers is going to make you healthy you should check who funded the study. Chances are it will be someone in the meat industry.
Chapter 14: Scientific Reductionism
Science has the tendency to break things into the minute parts, such as specific enzymes or molecules in a biochemical reaction in the brain, or which muscle fibers contract when you do a bicep curl, or which vitamins and minerals in your food is good for you. Campbell has shown through his research that there is a positive relationship between cancer and vitamin A, C, E, and some B vitamins. He has always claimed that vitamins should be obtained from whole nutritious foods and not through pills. However, once the vitamin and supplementation industry got a hold of his research they saw $$$$! Let’s make pills and claim they cure cancer! Yay!
Chapter 15: The “Science” of Industry
This chapter talks mainly about a point I made above about science being infiltrated by lobbyists and politics. Food companies make a lot of money. Kraft foods has revenues of about $30 billion a year. That’s a shit load of money. They may say they care about your health and giving you healthy options, but the bottom line is they want your money! However, with consumers starting to demand healthier options I think more companies are starting to rethink the idea. There are numerous very powerful lobbyist groups out there. Some of them include the National Dairy Council, American Meat Institute, and Florida Citrus Processors Association. These groups have A LOT of money and thus power so they have great marketing tools to make you buy their products. The National Dairy Council’s goal is use schools as a channel to young children and conduct and publicize research favorable to their industry.
Chapter 16: Government: Is It for the People?
I think you can probably answer that question correctly on your own. Again, this chapter talks mainly about the ties between various governmental committee members and industry. Campbell also states that nutrition is highly underfunded compared to other health topics such as cancer research, clinical research, and brain disorders. All those topics are important, but each also is affected by nutrition. Nutrition is a form of preventive medicine. Campbell has shown us that through his research. Perhaps we should invest more into it?
Chapter 17: Big Medicine: Whose Health Are They Protecting?
Campbell starts the chapter by asking “When is the last time that you went to the doctor and he or she told you what to eat or not to east?” It’s a very good question. Medicine, especially in America, is heavily driven by drugs. We have a pill to fix this. We have a pill to fix that. But guess what? We have food that can probably help you prevent that!
Chapter 18: Repeating Histories
This is Campbell’s last chapter in the book and uses it to connect his research findings to his personal life and family.
Overall, I enjoyed this section of the book the best, probably because I have experienced some of what he talks about in these chapters first hand. I definitely think this information is important and interesting for people to read.
I definitely think this is a good book for people to read. I highly recommend it! It might be a little intense on some of the scientific research concepts but Campbell writes in a way that captivates the reader and is easy to understand. Now the real question, will I become a vegan? Not a 100%. I do strongly believe in a strong plant-based diet, but I do enjoy some dairy and meat at a minimum.
Note: This post is mainly my opinion on the book and the topics. I am not a nutrition expert so please take my opinions as just that. I encourage you all to do your own research and come up with your own conclusions on the book and your diet and lifestyles.