The China Study is one of those all-encompassing studies that is difficult, if not impossible to replicate when it comes to the amount of participants. In total, 880 million people took part in a survey out of which a ton of data was gathered. The China Study elaborated on the data and was there to find out more about diet and lifestyle factors relating to health and disease. More than 8000 statistically significant associations between disease, health and lifestyle were drawn. No other study was or is so rich, clear and insightful.
Dr. Campbell, a pioneer
One of the pioneers of The China Study was Dr. T Colin Campbell. He had already done significant work in the field of protein intake and cancer in the Philippines. Now, by chance, he took part in the massive China study that arose from a survey conducted by the premier of China, Chou EnLai. In the 1970s he was dying of cancer. Chou EnLai wanted to understand more about how and why people get cancer, and thus help future citizens to hopefully prevent the deadly disease.
Here is an overview of some of the most significant statistical insights resulting from The China Study:
-Cancers in certain regions were sometimes 100 times more prevalent than in other regions of China. In other countries, this number is usually no more than two or three times when comparing the highest and lowest regions.
-Cancer rates varied tremendously even though 87% of participants were from the same ethnicity, meaning that genetics appeared to not play a major role.
-Death rate from heart disease was 17 times higher in men from the USA than in men from rural China.
-Breast cancer was five times more prevalent in the USA than in rural China.
-The average cholesterol was almost 100 points lower in rural China compared to the USA.
-The intake of fiber was around three times higher in rural China than in the USA.
-Fat intake was significantly lower in rural China compared to the USA.
What was the big difference between people in the USA and people in rural China? Researchers found that the dietary difference was the key. In rural China, meat, fish, other animal products and processed foods were not consumed or only consumed in small quantities, whereas the American diet was rich in all animal products and processed foods high in sugar and oil. Even when researchers separated the highly active from the more inactive rural Chinese, there was still a clear pattern: Diet made the difference.
Those who consumed a mostly plant-based diet were less prone to the chronic diseases so known in countries like the USA, including cancer and heart disease. The intake of plant-based foods was reflected in the high levels of fiber (only found in plant-foods), low levels of cholesterol (cholesterol is mainly found in animal products) and many more.
A pattern of diet and lifestyle
Some of the outcomes of the studies had a statistical significance of level lll. This means that the relation between food and disease was 99,9% certain. Thus, the chance of error or misplaced conclusions was almost zero. This is important because in medical research there is never a 100% guarantee, and that is why researchers work with various degrees of statistical significance.
In this article we very briefly touched upon the richness and insightfulness of The China Study. If you are interested, we highly recommend reading The China Study, as it is absolute gem and a must-read for health-enthousiasts.