Dr. Colin Campbell grew up on a dairy farm in the 1940's and 50's where he was taught, as most of us were, that eating a lot of meat and dairy was the perfect way of life. His father died at the age of seventy from a second heart attack.
He was the first in his family to attend college. In 1956 he obtained a bachelors degree in pre-veterinary medicine from Penn State, and later in 1962 he earned a PhD in nutrition, biochemistry, and bacteriology from Cornell University.
It was the college education that led Dr. Campbell to research how to make cows and sheep grow faster to increase the production of animal protein.
Dr. Colin Campbell later took a position at Virginia Tech where he coordinated technical assistance for a project in the Philippines working with malnourished children. Part of the program investigated the unusually high cancer in liver rate among Filipino children.
At this time, many health organizations believed that the poorer countries lacked enough protein in the diet for sustaining good health. This is when Dr. Campbell noticed that Filipino children of the wealthiest families that consumed the highest protein diets were the ones most likely to get cancer of the liver. The rural poorer children did not seem to have the cancer incidence of the wealthy city children.
Shortly after the children's liver cancer revelation, Dr. Campbell reviewed a study by Indian researchers that changed his direction forever!
The study was composed of two groups of rats.
Every rat in the group that ate the 20% animal protein had evidence of liver cancer, and every single animal in the 5% animal protein diet avoided cancer of the liver.
This overwhelming evidence left no doubt that nutrition nullified powerful carcinogens in controlling cancer.
This information went against Dr. Campbell's life experiences and everything that he had been taught. If this were true and he proceeded to investigate the issue, he could be branded a heretic even if the conclusions followed good science protocol.
However, Dr. Campbell had been raised on the farm and learned to solve problems on his own. Independent thinking was part of his character. The decision to proceed was a difficult one at this time early in his career, but it was "full speed ahead".
This decision has prompted a revolution in America and other cultures as to how we should think about the food we place on our dinner plates.
From the conclusions of the animal studies, it was time to move into human studies.
Dr. Junshi Chen, a distinguished scientist from China, came to work in Dr. Campbell's lab in the early 1980s. Dr. Chen had been in charge of the "Cancer Atlas" that surveyed 880 million citizens in the 2400 Chinese counties in the 1970s. The atlas depicted graphically where certain types of cancer were high and where they were almost nonexistent.
The wealth of data and collaboration with Dr. Chen led to the idea of The China Study.
Dr. Colin Campbell went on to direct the most comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle, and disease ever attempted in biomedical research. This massive study was sponsored by Cornell University, Oxford University and The Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine along with obtaining the political permission of the United States of America and the Peoples Republic of China.
More that 8000 statistically significant associations were found between various factors and disease. Data was gathered on 365 variables in 65 counties across China. Questionnaires were given to 6500 people along with a blood test and urine test.
The counties were located in rural and semi-rural parts of China. Dr. Campbell found that so many of the associations pointed to the same findings:
This information that Dr. Colin Campbell gathered became the basis for The China Study.