More than 30 years ago, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell University, in partnership with researchers at Oxford University and the Chinese Government, embarked upon one of the most comprehensive studies of nutrition and health ever conducted. Known as the China Project, this landmark study combined with laboratory findings conclusively demonstrated the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the amazing health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. These findings were translated into the best-selling book—The China Study.
While this extensive study found detrimental effects from all sources of animal proteins, dairy was of particular concern. The findings indicate that the lower the percentage of casein (a protein found in cows’ milk) a person consumes, the greater the health benefits. Even relatively small intakes of animal protein—from dairy or meat—were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. Other key points include:
1. The casein protein in cows’ milk, which makes up 80% of its protein content, was found to be a relevant chemical carcinogen—meaning it can turn on our cancer-promoting genes.
2. Countries with the highest calcium intake, mostly from cows’ milk, have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Casein protein causes the calcium in our bones to be leached into the body, weakening the bones. This happens as a result of dairy creating an acidic environment within the body and the calcium from our bones is used to neutralize the body.
3. The casein protein increases the cholesterol in the blood, leading to atherosclerosis (plaque build up inside the inner artery walls, which may ultimately constrict blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke).
4. Dairy proteins have been linked to the development of autoimmune diseases—such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis—through a mechanism known as molecular mimicry.
5. In dozens of experiments conducted over 30 years, casein was found to be a powerful promoter of experimental cancer. Wheat and soy proteins, however, did not stimulate cancer development.
6. There is no one single component of dairy that connects it to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis; rather, the substance contains a host of problematic factors. According to Dr. Campbell’s work, these factors include, “the increased activity of growth factors and compensatory cell replication, metabolic acidosis and its impact on key enzyme reactions, hormonal imbalances, and adverse effects on immune system components.”
What this tells us is that milk taken from a cow cannot be altered to become truly safe for human consumption. While many companies have attempted to remove the lactose and cut down on the inherent saturated fat found in dairy, they cannot eliminate the natural hormones found in all dairy, nor can they cease the growth-promoting characteristics of what, truly, is infant food—cow infant food, that is. Skeptics often say not all protein is created equal, and The China Study confirms this. Some proteins are downright dangerous.
This article was created with research collaboration from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.