..man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d…
From Measure for Measure by Wm Shakespeare
The web has been alive with commentary the past few weeks since Denise Minger lobbed her first cannonball of a critique across the bow of The China Study, the vessel T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. rode to fame and bestsellerdom. Seems like everyone is now jumping into the fray and gunning for poor Dr. Campbell, who early on in the fracas made a few halfhearted attempts to fight back but has now fled the scene. I’ve been laying low watching it all play out, and so now figured it’s about time I add my two cents worth to the debate. But first a little history.
I met Dr. Campbell about ten years ago (five or so years before the publication of the popular book The China Study) when we both spoke at the same conference. He was a nice enough man who spoke about the work he and his team had done in China gathering the data published in the massive 894 page monograph Diet, Life-style and Mortality in China (pictured above left). As Dr. Campbell presented his data ‘demonstrating’ the superiority of a plant-based diet and demonizing protein of animal origin, I didn’t think much about it because the data was all in the form of observational studies, which, as all readers of this blog should know by now, despite often showing correlation don’t prove causation. My lecture, which followed Dr. Campbell’s, was, as you might imagine, a lecture of a different sort. Then we both sat on a panel after our talks and fielded questions. And were both cordial to one another.
A few years ago, I became vaguely aware that Dr. Campbell had written a popular book on his work in China titled, appropriately enough, The China Study. I assumed it pretty much mirrored his presentation I had watched, so didn’t rush out and grab a copy. Over the past few years a number of people have asked about The China Study through the comments section of this blog, and I’ve typically answered that the data are all observational and so not really meaningful in terms of causation.
(Note: Throughout this post whenever I refer to the popular book Dr. Campbell wrote, I’ll call it by it’s title The China Study, and when I refer to the large study Dr. Campbell was involved with in China and was the basis for the monograph Diet, Life-style and Mortality in China, I’ll call it the China study.)
About a year ago, I wrote a guest post for Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Workweek blog. It actually wasn’t a guest post as much as it was an excerpt of a chapter from our book The Six-Week Cure for the Middle-aged Middle extolling the virtues of saturated fat. It was a popular post that has garnered to date 520 plus comments, many of them fairly spirited. I agreed to answer a number of the comments and did so. I noticed as I sifted through them that a handful were absolutely fawning of Dr. Campbell and The China Study. Here is a sampling:
The number one study of diet and disease is the China Study. All other data points are slivers compared to the volume of data and statistical correlations that came from the China Study.
Have you read The China Study? Dr. Campbell points out repeatedly that none of the weight loss studies such as Atkins or South Beach diet follow any type of peer reviewed scientific method.
Tim…and to think I was such a big fan of yours. This is by far the weakest (and least cited) argument I have ever read on diet–especially increasing saturated fats. Half knowledge is a scary thing in the hands of influential people. Maybe it’s another genius marketing ploy (like the myth riddled protein Atkin’s diet)–people love to feel good about their personal yet poor decision making–and diet is very personal. Check out researchers that actually meant to study nutrition–like Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study comes to mind.
It was pretty apparent that the disease of non-critical thinking was at epidemic proportions.
After reading a number of these, I decided I had better take a look to see what Dr. Campbell had going on that had attracted such devotees. I pulled up his book on Amazon and read through a few comments, most of which were even more nauseatingly gushing than the above. I ordered a copy of The China Study.
I knew that both Anthony Colpo and Chris Masterjohn had done their own critiques of the original data, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll take a look at the ‘real’ China study (as opposed to the popular book of that name) and do one too. And I’ll critique the popular book, which I figured was a rehash of the China project, while I’m at it.
I tracked down a copy of the 894 page book in a bookstore in the UK and forked over $240 to purchase it and have it shipped. As I was awaiting its arrival I told Gary Taubes what I had done, and he replied that he had done the same thing himself a few years earlier. And that I could have borrowed his. And, even worse, that most of the data was available online for free.
When the book arrived, I was amazed at the size of it. Not only was it the 894 pages as advertised, it was in a large format. Much larger than a volume of the Enclyclopaedia Britannica. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.
Here are a couple of photographs shamelessly using our own book to show the size of this behemoth
Of the 894 pages, the first 82 are a study overview, description of methodology and author commentary. It is written in the form of a scientific paper with half the page in English and half in Chinese (which, presumably, is a translation of the English half). The remainder of the 894 pages are raw data and correlations. Page after page after page of correlations. I didn’t bother counting them, but Dr. Campbell says there are 367 variables, each of which is compared with every other variable. I don’t doubt him. This study was a massive undertaking, requiring thousands upon thousands of man hours and God only knows how much money. No one can possibly accuse the team members of not giving it their all.
Here is one page of correlations. This one between stearic acid and all the other variables studied.
But in the end it is still only an observational study. And even though – again, according to Dr. Campbell – there are over 8000 statistically significant correlations, correlations are not causation. Any scientist worth his/her salt will tell you that all you can do with data from observational studies is use them to form hypotheses that can be rigorously tested in randomized, controlled trials. Then and only then (assuming the study results show it) can you even begin to talk about causation. The whole enterprise, costly and time consuming though it was, was described perfectly by Shakespeare in the words of MacBeth:
…it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Once I saw that the original China study was nothing but a huge number of correlations, I quickly lost interest. What is the point in going through the brain damage of ferreting around in these to see if Dr. Campbell interpreted them correctly when he tries to make his case that a plant-based diet is optimal. It doesn’t really matter whether he interprets them correctly or not, they are only correlations. Repeat after me one last time: Correlation is not causation, correlation is not causation, correlation is not causation…
I wondered why Dr. Campbell and his group didn’t spend a fraction of the time and money they spent on this behemoth of a spreadsheet full of correlations on a real study that could provide hard evidence. Why not randomize subjects into two groups and provide one a plant-based diet and the other a meat-based diet or something similar. Lock them down as Ancel Keys did if they had to. Surely the money spent on the China study could’ve covered that. Get some real data. I discovered later that I wasn’t the only one who wondered that. Even some of Dr. Campbell’s own colleagues abandoned him to this study and told him it would be worthless. More about this later.
So enough for me. I stuck my copy of the $240 book of correlations in my library and forgot about it. Until Denise Minger’s critique hit the net.
Upon reading her blog post, my first reaction was This is great; someone took the time to do what I was going to do. I figured Dr. Campbell had cherry picked his correlations to make the case he wanted to make, and I had seen Colpo and Masterjohn catch him on it. Ms. Minger went even further and really caught Dr. Campbell with his pants down, correlation-misinterpretation speaking. I continued to read with mounting glee Ms Minger’s successive critiques and a few other bloggers who had critiques of their own. (Believe me, there is no dearth of material here for people to attack without any two attacking the same data twice.)
After this went on for a while, I had my second reaction to the whole affair.
Which was that I had fallen victim to the confirmation bias. My bias was that Dr. Campbell was wrong, so I was more than happy to uncritically accept evidence confirming his error without lifting a finger to double check said evidence myself. I knew that if a blogger somewhere had come out with a long post describing an analysis of the China study demonstrating the validity of all of Dr. Campbell’s notions of the superiority of the plant-based diet, I would’ve been all over it looking for analytical errors. But since Ms. Minger’s work accorded with my own beliefs, my confirmation bias ensured that I accepted it at face value.
Once the fact that I had succumbed to my confirmation bias settled in around me, I became suffused with angst. I had tweeted and retweeted Ms. Minger’s analysis a number of times, giving the impression that I had at least minimally checked it out and had approved it. I had emailed it to a number of people, many of whom, I’m sure, had forwarded it on. I’m sure I played a fairly large role in the rapid dissemination of the anti Campbell/China study info.
(It didn’t really make me feel better to know I wasn’t alone in falling into the confirmation bias quicksand. Take a look at this post from Richard Nikoley’s Free the Animal blog. I doubt that all these people checked Ms. Minger’s calculations before posting.)
My angst wasn’t because I had possibly fed the flames of a misinformation wildfire – I wasn’t particularly worried about that because mountains of other data (including first hand data from my own clinical practice) have persuaded me that Dr. Campbell is dead wrong in his ideas about the superiority of a plant-based diet. No, my angst arose for two other reasons: first, because I was distressed that I so easily fell prey to the confirmation bias, and, second, because I felt I needed to go through all the calculations myself to make sure Ms. Minger and others whose work I had circulated were truly correct in their analyses.
As I was wallowing in self pity over all this, I didn’t realize that salvation was at hand. And that my savior was none other than Dr. T. Colin Campbell himself.
Yep, his first response to Denise Minger’s critique of his work appeared on the Tynan.net website and rescued me from my pit of self-loathing. In it, Dr. Campbell wrote:
But she suffers one major flaw that seeps into her entire analysis by focusing on the selection of univariate correlations to make her arguments (univariate correlations in a study like this means, for example, comparing 2 variables–like dietary fat and breast cancer–within a very large database where there will undoubtedly be many factors that could incorrectly negate or enhance a possible correlation). She acknowledges this problem in several places but still turns around and displays data sets of univariate correlations.
In other words, the China study is an observational study comparing one variable to another (univariate correlations) and, as such, meaningless. And this from the man’s own pen.
Since these observational studies are meaningless in terms of causality, it doesn’t really matter how one slices and dices the data because meaningless correlations by any other names are still just as meaningless. All this falderal over whether or not Dr. Campbell had his interpretations right was tantamount to the medieval theological argument over how many angels could stand on the head of a pin. And my participation certainly wasn’t required.
I’d known this all before, of course, but somehow had lost my focus on it.
I was ready to wash my hands of the whole affair when I came across another statement Dr. Campbell made in his response to Ms. Minger’s critique. Writing of her, he said:
One further flaw…is her assumption that it was the China project itself, almost standing alone, that determined my conclusions for the book (it was only one chapter!). She, and others like her, ignore much of the rest of the book.
Only one chapter? As I mentioned above, I always figured The China Study was simply Dr. Campbell’s tale of the China study and the conclusions he had drawn from it. Now he says that only one chapter is about the China study, leaving me to conclude that the rest must be about something else. I found the book, which I hadn’t yet taken from the pack it came in from Amazon, opened it and started reading.
In 1976 author Mary McCarthy famously said live on the Dick Cavett show of her rival Lillian Hellman:
Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.**
I feel much the same way about The China Study. Except it’s not really a lie, it’s an obfuscation.
In fact, in my studied opinion, The China Study is a masterpiece of obfuscation.
It is obfuscatory in so many ways it could truly qualify as a work of obfuscatory genius. It would be difficult for a mere mortal to pen so much confusion, ambiguity, distortion and misunderstanding in what is basically a book-length argument for a personal opinion masquerading as hard science.
Let me take just one tiny section of the book, one that is in no way atypical, and show you what I mean.
In Chapter 3 titled Turning Off Cancer, Dr. Campbell is starting to hit his stride in his anti animal protein jihad. He has described the three stages of cancer – initiation, promotion and progression – and is setting the stage for his description of his laboratory work implicating animal protein in all three stages.
Here is his setup paragraph starting on page 50:
At the start of our research, the stages of cancer formation were known only in vague outline. But we knew enough about these stages of cancer to be able to structure our research more intelligently. We had no shortage of questions. Could we confirm the findings from India that a low-protein diet represses tumor formation? More importantly, why does protein affect the cancer process? What are the mechanisms; that is, how does protein work? With plenty of questions to be answered, we went about our experimental studies meticulously and in depth in order to obtain results that would withstand the harshest of scrutiny.
The “findings from India that a low-protein diet represses tumor formation” were the results of a rodent study published in the Archives of Pathology in 1968 that Dr. Campbell wrote about 14 pages earlier in the book. He mysteriously refers to the Archives of Pathology as an obscure journal when it is anything but. It was published then by the American Medical Association and still is today under the new name Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. But the notion of the paper initiating his quest being discovered by Dr. Campbell in an “obscure medical journal” fosters the impression of him as a leave-no-stone-unturned kind of guy. Even the little throw away but incorrect phrase “obscure medical journal” is part of the greater picture of obfuscation that maintains throughout the book.
The study from India showed that rats given aflatoxin along with a high-protein diet got liver cancer while rats given the same amount of aflatoxin while consuming a low-protein diet didn’t. Aflatoxin is a substance released from a fungus often found in peanuts, corn, other grains and even hay. It is converted in the liver to a much more toxic compound and is often used in laboratory experiments with animals to induce cancer and other problems.
Moving on, here is what Dr. Campbell has to say about protein and cancer initiation:
[I] How does protein intake affect cancer initiation? Our first test was to see whether protein intake affected the enzyme principally responsible for aflatoxin metabolism, the mixed function oxidase (MFO). This enzyme is very complex because it also metabolizes pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, friend or foe to the body. Paradoxically this enzyme both detoxifies and activates aflatoxin. It is an extraordinary transformation substance.
[II] At the time we started our research, we hypothesized that the protein we consume alters tumor growth by changing how aflatoxin is detoxified by enzymes present in the liver.
[III] We initially determined whether the amount of protein that we eat could change this enzyme activity. After a series of experiments, the answer was clear (Chart 3.2). Enzyme activity could be easily modified simply be changing the level of protein intake.
[IV] Decreasing protein intake like that done in the original research in India (20% to 5%) not only greatly decreased enzyme activity, but did so very quickly. What does this mean? Decreasing enzyme activity via low-protein diets implied that less aflatoxin was being transformed into the dangerous aflatoxin metabolite that had the potential to bind and to mutate DNA.
These four little paragraphs and accompanying chart take up less than a page in space, and are tiny glittering gems of obfuscation. Let’s deconstruct.
First, take a look at how subtly these four paragraphs are written, especially II. Note how he writes “the protein we consume”? I’m sure many people took these paragraphs to mean that the studies were done on humans. That’s almost the implication. Reread them to see if they indicate anywhere that the author is talking about rat studies.
As Dr. Campbell progresses through this chapter, he does ultimately tell the reader he is talking about rat studies and not human studies, but he doesn’t mention the word rat for another two pages after the above paragraphs. By this time it’s probably implanted in the minds of many readers that he’s talking about human studies.
He describes experiments showing that rats getting diets high in casein (a milk/animal protein) develop more cancer at the same dose of aflatoxin than do rats getting a lower-casein diet. The implication: animal protein causes cancer.
Dr. Campbell then gave his rats diets of varying amounts of plant protein (wheat gluten) and found that they did not get cancer after exposure to aflatoxin irrespective of protein dose. Same thing happened with soy. Implication: plant protein protects against cancer.
If you’re worried about cancer – and who isn’t – you’re now starting to look at animal protein a little differently. Which is what Dr. Campbell wants. But he hasn’t told you the complete story.
As I’ve written often in these pages, rodents aren’t just furry little humans. They are a distinct species separate and apart from humans. The rodents usually used in lab experiments are Sprague-Dawley rats, and inbred strain that has a tendency to develop cancer easily. (See Abelson, PH. (1992) Diet and Cancer in Humans and Rodents, Science 255(5041); Jan 10: 141) In fact, these rats can develop cancer just from a change in diet. I ran quick checks on a bunch of the studies referenced in The China Study, and all checked used Sprague-Dawley rats.
And think about this. If you were to visit a farm and search for rodents, where do you think you would be most likely to find them? In the grain or in the milking area? Like Dr. Campbell, I grew up in a rural area and spent a lot of time on a farm. Rats and mice are in the hay and in the grain. You have a helluva time keeping them out of the animal feed, which they eat, too. Grain and hay are common places for growth of the fungus that produces aflatoxin. Since rodents spend most of their days in this stuff (grains), and since they eat it as well, I would bet that most have adapted over the generations to the combination of plant protein and aflatoxin. If this did them in regularly, there wouldn’t be the rodent problem on farms that there is. So, in my opinion, making a huge issue of the fact that rats didn’t get cancer after dosing with aflatoxin irrespective of how much plant protein they ate is pretty disingenuous.
Most disingenuous of all in the above four paragraphs and chart is the lack of full disclosure in these paragraphs of the very study Chart 3.2 is made from. Let me explain.
Certain enzymes in the liver convert aflatoxin into a more toxic substance that Dr. Campbell claims can initiate the formation of cancer. He demonstrates in rat studies that giving the rats a lower protein diet decreases the activity of this enzyme, meaning that the lower the protein intake, the less conversion of the aflatoxin into the really nasty stuff. Chart 3.2 above and on page 52 of his book shows this graphically.
When I pulled the study from which this chart was adapted (Mgbodile MUK and Campbell TC. (1972) Effect of protein deprivation of male weanling rats on the kinetics of hepatic microsomal enzyme activity, J Nutr, 102: 53-60.) and read it, I found a little disclaimer Dr. Campbell didn’t bother to mention in The China Study. You can read the last paragraph of the study (highlighted in yellow) below:
Nice, eh? He hits the nail on the head. Protein utilization may be influenced by what is eaten along with the protein. Sucrose (table sugar) was eaten along with the protein used in this experiment. In other experiments corn starch was used instead of sugar and the effect of the protein on the enzyme was diminished, meaning that the protein along with starch did not have nearly the same effect as protein with the sugar. Who knows whether or not it’s even the protein that has the effect and not the sugar? It can’t be shown from this study. That caveat certainly didn’t make in into The China Study.
See what I mean about a masterpiece of obfuscation?
I could go on and on, but I’ll quit after I give you just a couple more examples.
On page 107 of The China Study Dr. Campbell writes:
At the end of the day, the strength and consistency of the majority of the evidence is enough to draw valid conclusions. Namely, whole plant-based foods are beneficial, and animal-based foods are not.
Then one inch below (literally) he writes the following:
The China Study was an important milestone in my thinking. Standing alone, it does not prove that diet causes disease. [Italics in the original]
So, the China study produces valid conclusions as to causality, i.e., “whole plant-based foods are beneficial, and animal-based foods are not.” Yet the China study “does not prove that diet causes disease.” Say what?
Don’t believe me, take a look at a scan of my copy:
On page 73 Dr. Campbell dons the mantle of prestige conferred by one of America’s most august newspapers. Writes he referring to the China study:
We had a study that was unmatched in terms of it’s comprehensiveness, quality and uniqueness. We had what the New York Times termed “the Grand Prix of epidemiology.”
A quick search of that phrase in the online version of the NY Times reveals that it came from an opinion piece by none other than Jane Brody, a kindred spirit to Dr. Campbell. Brody, a lipophobe of the deepest hue, has written a number of low-fat cookbooks and is a believer in the plant-based diet. So she hardly qualifies as an unbiased commenter.
And speaking of the so-called plant-based diet, when Dr. Campbell responded to Ms. Minger’s critique, he took her to task for mentioning the words ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ as it applied to his work.
One final note: she repeatedly uses the ‘V’ words (vegan, vegetarian) in a way that disingenuously suggests that this was my main motive. I am not aware that I used either of these words in the book, not once. I wanted to focus on the science, not on these ideologies.
Just for grins, I turned to the index of The China Study to see if ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ were indexed. Here’s what I found on page 417:
vegetarianism or veganism. See plant-based diet
When I flipped over to ‘plant-based diet’ on page 414, I found a long grocery list of references.
Even in his online response to his opponents, Dr. Campbell apparently can’t resist obfuscating.
Okay, just one more, then I’ve got to draw this to a close. Let’s go back to the bottom of page 52, the page the paragraphs above and Chart 3.2 appear on. Dr. Campbell shows in Chart 3.2 how protein is involved in stimulating the liver to convert aflatoxin to the toxic product that he implies is involved in cancer initiation. He then reports how he wanted to see if animal-based protein was involved in the other phases of the cancer progression cascade. So he and his grad students started to look. He writes:
As time passed, we were to learn something quite remarkable. Almost every time we searched for a way, or mechanism, by which protein works to produce its effects [on cancer formation and progression], we found one!
That, my friends, is almost the dictionary definition of the confirmation bias summed up in one sentence.
This tiny bit of the book that I’ve chosen to lay bare is truly the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Before I finish, I want to get back to something I mentioned earlier about how one of Dr. Campbell’s own colleagues bailed out from the China study because he recognized it for what it was: a giant observational study that was meaningless. Here is how Dr. Campbell describes it on page 105-106:
When we first started this project we encountered significant resistance from some people. One of my colleagues at Cornell, who had been involved in the early planning of the China Study, got quite heated in one of our meetings. I had put forth the idea of investigating how lots of dietary factors, some known but many unknown, work together to cause disease. Thus we had to measure lots of factors, regardless of whether or not they were justified by prior research. If that was what we intended to do, he said he wanted nothing to do with such a “shotgun” approach. [i.e., a big, meaningless observational study]
This colleague was expressing a view that was more in line with mainstream scientific thought than with my idea [i.e., a randomized, controlled trial that might demonstrate causality would be a better use of the funds.] He and like-minded colleagues think that science is best done when investigating single – mostly known – factors in isolation. [He and like-minded colleagues are correct.] An array of largely unspecified factors doesn’t show anything, they say. [They are right.] It’s okay to measure the specific effect of, say, selenium on breast cancer, but it’s not okay to measure multiple nutritional conditions in the same study, in the hope of identifying important dietary patterns.
I prefer the broader picture, for we are investigating the incredible complexities and subtleties of nature itself…
So I say we need more, not less, of the “shotgun approach.” We need more thought about overall dietary patterns and whole foods. Does this mean that I think the shotgun approach is the only way to do research? Of course not. Do I think that the China Study findings constitute absolute scientific proof? Of course not. Does it provide enough information to inform some practical decision-making? [No.] Absolutely.
Dr. Campbell uses an impassioned written speech to persuade the scientifically untrained that the China study carries vastly more scientific value than it actually does. Once again, it’s a large observational study, but an observational study nonetheless. And as such, it is useful only in developing hypotheses to be tested with randomized, controlled trials. The entire 894 page study proves not a shred of causality.
What saddens me about all this is that hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of people who can’t (or won’t) read critically have fallen for the premise of The China Study without even thinking about it. Believing that the entire book is based on the greatest and most important nutritional study ever completed. What happened to the ability to read critically? Has it vanished from the populace? Based on the comments on The China Study on Amazon it would seem so.
In my opinion, there really isn’t much of substance in the entire 400 plus page book. But I encourage you to buy it and read it to test your own critical reading skills. If you don’t want to test your critical reading skills, you’ll at least enjoy coming across some real howlers such as this one believed only by the vegetarian/vegan zealots out there (oh, sorry, plant-based diet followers):
As you will see in this book, there is a mountain of scientific evidence to show that the healthiest diet you can possibly consume is a high-carbohydrate diet. [italics in the original]
I wonder if Gary Taubes, who wrote a vastly more scientific book, would agree?
Lest you think I’m being too hard on poor Dr. Campbell, let me tell you a few things. First, as I mentioned earlier, the few sections of The China Study I dissected are just a tiny fraction of the whole. I could go on and on. Second, Dr. Campbell mentions Protein Power by name on page 19 and labels it a modern protein fad diet that “continue[s] to inflict a great variety of dangerous health disorders.” Third, he is absolutely and unnecessarily brutal in his treatment of Dr. Robert Atkins. He has an entire section on Dr. Atkins starting on page 95 that runs for almost three pages. After quoting from one of Dr. Atkins’ books, he writes the following about the deceased diet doctor:
There are snake oil salesman, who have no professional research, professional training or professional publications in the field of nutrition, and there are scientists, who have formal training, have conducted research and have reported on their findings in professional forums. Perhaps it is a testament to the poser of modern marketing savvy that an obese man with heart disease and high blood pressure [here he inserts a citation for an article discussing Dr. Atkins’ death] became one of the richest snake oil salesmen ever to live, selling a diet that promises to help you lose weight, to keep your heart healthy and to normalize your blood pressure.
A way below-the-belt commentary when you consider that Dr.Atkins was a trained cardiologist who took care of thousands of real, live patients throughout his career – he wasn’t, like Dr. Campbell, a bench scientist doing rat studies in a lab. Bob Atkins and I have had our differences, but were he still alive, I would vastly prefer to put my own care in his hands than I would those of Dr. Campbell, who has never treated a patient in his life.
You may ask if I took anything of value from my reading of this book? I did. On page 107 Dr. Campbell writes the following:
The results of this study…convinced me to turn my dietary lifestyle around. I stopped eating meat fifteen years ago, and I stopped eating almost all animal-based foods, including dairy, within the past six to eight years, except on very rare occasions, MY cholesterol has dropped, even as I’ve aged; I am more physically fit now than when I was twenty-five; and I am forty-five pounds lighter now than was when I was thirty years old. I am now at an ideal weight for my height.
I have no reason to doubt Dr. Campbell’s own medical and dietary history (except maybe for the part about being more physically fit than he was at age 25 – that’s a tough act for someone who is 73), so I’ll assume it’s all true. As I recall, he had a trim physique when I met him 10 years ago, which, assuming nothing has changed, is probably the same. And I’m going to take Dr. Campbell at his word about what he eats.
Granted, I’m younger than Dr. Campbell, but I follow almost the opposite diet as he does yet I, too, have low cholesterol, very low blood pressure and am ideal weight for my height. What this all tells me is how wonderfully adaptive the human species is where diet is concerned. It’s no wonder we took over the earth.
** Lillian Hellmann was predictably furious over McCarthy’s comment and adopted the typical American response: she sued. In one of those turns in which the law of unintended consequences jumps up and bites one, many of her untruths came to light in the courtroom as McCarthy was forced to defend her statement. Hellmann disengaged by dying during the proceedings.