I just interviewed T. Colin Campbell

Normally I blog in the morning. Not this morning, because I got Mercola’s newsletter lambasting T. Colin Campbell, PhD, of Cornell University, and his massive study known as the Oxford/Cornell China Project.

I threw everything on my schedule to the wind today and have spent hours writing a response to the Mercola newsletter. We will invariably deal with hundreds of emails about it so I want to respond to it immediately. I hope to have that blog entry and newsletter ready to go out by morning.

In my research, I spoke at length with Dr. Campbell on the phone.   Apart from the details and questions we discussed, all of which will be reflected in my report tomorrow, I learned something interesting.

A venerable Hollywood group with very prestigious directors has produced a movie called Forks Over Knives, about the careers and research and lives of Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and Colin Campbell, PhD. Both were raised with meat-intensive diets on farms, and their long and lettered careers intersected early on.

The pre-screenings have been sold out. I would fly to a screening if given a chance! It comes out in theaters next March. If we haven’t all been able to see it, maybe I can arrange a screening at the GreenSmoothieGirl retreat April 21-23.

19 thoughts on “I just interviewed T. Colin Campbell

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  1. I also saw Mercola’s newsletter where he was blasting Campbell. I didn’t even bother reading it because the more I read from Mercola the less impressed I become. He’s very sensational and I think he tries to scare his readers into buying his products. I look forward to hearing more about your interview. Thanks for taking this on!

  2. The WAPF/traditional foods world has been overjoyed for a couple months about their belief that Dr. Campbell’s study has been thoroughly discredited by a researcher in the beginning of July. Had you been getting a lot of feedback from people who were reading that information? I guess Mercola probably has a wider reach than these people, but if you haven’t been hearing a lot during July and August, it may not change much now.

    The critique(s):



    Over 40 bloggers spreading the word:


    1. Minger? An English major, not a researcher. We haven’t seen the end of this debate . . .

      Many people lose a lot in terms of money and credibility, if the findings of the Oxford/Cornell project are adopted in modern practices and lifestyles. The research will be fiercely debated for quite some time, but the results are compelling, no matter how much you pick around the edges.

    1. Dr. Campbell told me today that a group of epidemiologists (about 7 of them, unaffiliated with him, from Johns Hopkins and other places) are about to systematically take apart Minger’s faulty assumptions about the China Study.

      Minger is apparently associated with the Weston A. Price Foundation. The WAPF, like Mercola, lives or dies by its heavy promotion of animal products and came out swinging the minute The China Study was published. (They’re great about promoting whole foods–but they love organic meat and dairy.) The China Study is newer, bigger, and more scientific than the very old research of Weston Price.

  3. Wow…this is fascinating. For exercise today, I’m going into town and walk a healthy circuit covering half a dozen shops, not all of them book stores (like Whole Foods and Yes! Gourmet which carry books on diet and nutrition). I’m going to search for books by you, Dr. Campbell (specifically relating to the Oxford/Cornell study), and this Mercola person/WAPF. One thing you said on your newsletter–I think that’s where I got this–is that a blender is the best teeth one can have. I relate to that because I’ve always had lousy teeth, and now that I’m in my 70s, I have a tough time chewing raw veggies.

    Thanks for the work you do!

  4. The dietary recommendations that Dr. Mercola makes are akin to the practice of the doctors and dentists of my youth who handed out lollipops to their patients. While professing to be about helping people get well, they supplied the very thing that would keep people unwell — thus ensuring a steady return of their patients’ business. Mercola is no different. If his readers/customers were to adopt a fresh, whole foods, plant-based diet and experience improved health, I believe Mercola would experience a decreased income from the sale of supplements from his website. That’s why I believe he is fighting The China Study tooth and toenail!

  5. The two men Campbell and Esselstyn are in a documentary on Hulu.com called Chow Down… very interesting to watch…. would recommend.

  6. Campbell really is a piece of work.

    Ad hominem? Check. Always a reliable sign of a serious mind in action. Not.

    I assume they are going to data mine the bejeesus out of the data, so we can check that box as well.

    Personally, I have a pet project – a worldwide ban on correlational studies, kind of like with chemical weapons, etc. Sure, they can generate hypotheses, and when you get hazard ratios of 13 or so (think smoking and lung cancer), hey, we might make an exception.

    But sadly, I have come to the conclusion that they do more harm than good overall.

  7. Do you have any shred of evidence at all that “Minger is apparently associated with the Weston A. Price Foundation”? Do you have any sources other than those just mindlessly repeating Campbell?

    For some reason Campbell likes to acuse his critics of being associated with the WAPF, as though it is some modern American Communist Party or something. His invocation of WAPF boogeymen is one of Campbell’s standard debate tactics.

    It just takes a few seconds to look at the WAPF website and see that they are just a non-profit organization that promotes natural food. The only thing “sinister” about them is that one of their members chose to question the China Study.

  8. Denise Minger is not promoting the Weston Price Foundation. Please provide a reference besides someone just claiming that without any basis. BUT: what if she were? Would that make her analysis wrong? Is Campbell wrong because he’s associated (which he actually IS here in non-fiction land) the PCRM? Obviously not!

  9. Sorry this is not related to the post, I just have no idea where to post it. I have been drinking green drinks for about 15 months, and ran into your web about 2 months ago and am LOVING IT. I wanted to share with you this story from my 5 year old daughter tonight that I wrote in my electronic journal:

    This day ended with me reading “Charlotte’s Web.” I read something like Wilbur relaxed as he lay in the “straw.”

    E. said, “What, the straw?”

    I said, “You know the straw in a barn.”

    She said, “Oh, I was like, did Wilbur have a Green Drink?” (Because we drink our morning green drinks with a straw). I got a pretty good chuckle out of this. As I was laughing, and we were lying in bed head to head, I look toward E. and she adds, “a slop green drink.” Oh my was that a good one, she really had me laughing then. What a sense of humor.

  10. Dr. Mercola has always been a fan of raw foods and organic produce. Clinically, he has simply seen plenty of people that don’t do well on vegetarian diets. He is not alone in this, by a long shot. George Watson, Rudolph Wiley, Wolcott, d’Adamo (father and son) have also witnessed similar variations in how people respond to foods from a metabolic standpoint, and have contributed interesting observations about acid/alkaline balance, pH, hormonal/stress incidents, pH swinngs that occur rhythmically over a month or even throughout a day, and blood type. In the case of Watson’s work, he saw that something as simple as a diet change could pull someone out of a catatonic state…and returning to the old diet could put them right back into that state. These various systems have helped a lot of people, and there is more to be learned about how and why that happened.

    China’s population has a larger percentage of Type B’s and AB’s compared to the rest of the world. They also have plenty of A’s, who are natural vegetarians. These blood types all have potential problems with handling animal protein, and some have specific problems with one of the most common animal protein: chicken. Some of these types do much better on soy than other types, as well.

    Type O’s, on the other hand, thrive on meat and cave on gluten grains or even regular consumption of other grains. Any Chinese person eating meat is probably also eating rice, and will have chronic health problems as they age. The combo of meat and rice is a particular challenge to the AB’s, too.

    I think these factors may be skewing the results of the China study.

    I have seen miracles with people on raw vegan diets, the kind that every doctor says cannot be cured. Raw vegan and high raw vegan diets have an impressive track record! For some, it should be the lifestyle of choice. For others, it may be valuable as on ongoing but intermittent health booster. But I also know of people whose cancer cure was not complete until they went back to eating animal foods – raw. There is a growing group of people who are getting the results they need by incorporating meat – raw and cooked – to get the results they were not getting from a vegetarian diet. I’ve used raw diets of mixed meat and produce on a dog with great results – a fast growing tumor disintegrated to invisibility within 7 weeks of switching from kibble to B.A.R.F., and he stopped smelling bad, and he had tons more energy as well.

    And the Weston A. Price Foundation exists because plenty of people are healthier on traditional foods than on whatever they were doing before…vegan, raw vegan, vegetarian, processed, whatever. Raw vegans are particularly prone to dental problems unless they drink scads of green smoothies…people on diets of traditional bone broths and rich butter and lacto-fermented foods have fabulously healthy teeth and gums…and there is at least one case of reversing cavities and improved enamel on this sort of eating plan.

    I don’t think Mercola is challenging our need for whole, organic produce, because he is ALWAYS talking about the importance of that.

    He wants people to understand that they need to respect what their bodies’s need, metabolically. (He doesn’t follow a blood type system, but his approach to evaluating people’s metabolic responses to food shares some similarities with blood type diets.) Anyway, if good health means some animal food, so be it…but let it be untainted, humanely raised animal food, or it is likely to hurt rather than heal.

    It would be a really sad thing if, say, Brazilians and Peruvians, who are nearly all Type O, should be sold a bill of goods about going vegetarian, unless they all drank green smoothies exclusively and drank enough to get all their animal protein needs met with the greens, and all their calorie needs met with the low-sugar fruits that are good for them. Fruit is great, but O’s need to be careful of even raw fruits if they are sweet. They are more vulnerable to thyroid issues so anything triggering rapid sugar release will become an issue sooner or later if it made a habit. Sweet fruits can do that. And if they don’t do sweet fruits to fill in the calorie gap, they would probably fall back on grains, which would be detrimental to their health, even if they sprouted it all first. The reality is, at this point, that most people in the world don’t have the high powered blenders or juicers needed to make fresh, green, easy-to-assimilate green drinks. Many people with higher protein needs would definitely suffer needlessly if the China Study were accepted and applied willy-nilly as “vegetarian is good.”

    The body needs what the body needs, and we cannot yet make blanket statements about that. Even the most careful research does not cover all the bases or exclude all the possible biases.

    As for Mercola and his marketing, I think that if his clinical outcomes supported the idea that everyone should be on a raw, vegan diet, he would simply sell blenders, dehydrators, ceramic knives and advertise for CSA’s and import the best of the best superfoods like David Wolfe and others, and convince ranchers to raise livestock for the purpose of selling high quality manure and ecofriendly-harvested seaweeds so we can all grow our own food in healthy soil. And his marketing would probably still be passionate/flamboyant because that appears to be who he is by nature.

    My dh and I are different types, metabolically. He has read NOTHING about diet or blood type, yet his food preferences are incredibly decided. They seemed foolish to me before. How can a person simply NOT LIKE certain foods that were yummy to me? I found it fascinating that his blood type list of “avoids” matched his personal opinion in so many cases.

    When a combination of economic necessity in my teens and early adulthood and then nutritional nonsense in nursing school pointed me away from animal proteins, I began the spiral of issues with weight, fatigue, low thyroid and more. It did not agree with my O type to rely on vegetarian foods, but short periods of one week raw vegan felt good. Long stretches – 3 weeks – were devastating (and I’m talking a fully balanced raw vegan approach with all the supportive cleansing, breathing, meditating, etc, activities at a retreat based on Ann Wigmore’s work). I’ve come to see that I need lots of greens and low sugar fruits and berries in Green Smoothies and Green Lemonade, lots of low starch veggies (except those that further annoy my thyroid), should avoid dairy, and should enjoy some of that animal protein that my body craves – and feels good with after eating. And I feel better when I ditch most of the grains – even whole ones – that had me in a vicious cycle so I can safely enjoy very modest amounts of Essene breads or baked breads made of sprouted non-wheat grains.

    Ideally, we should be trying to find out if it is possible to discover a high vegetarian and/or low tech way to achieve nutritional healing for “protein types.” We aren’t there yet. And like I said, it is one thing to tell people around the world that all they need is a green smoothie that has been made recently and stored properly….and another to make sure they have the resources to make it happen. If they are in the middle of a desert living in a tent and nothing is growing in the freezing desert around them, would you really want them to be burdened with someone else’s incorrect and impossible ideas for their diet? No! And hand me the jerky treat!

  11. umm where is the scientific eveidence between eating for you blood type? have yet to see any–interesting ideas–but what is his evidence promoting that?

  12. The debate will be around for a while. I’ve been trying to follow it with some success. The anti-campbell people totally spammed the internet with this “Denise Minger debunks the China Study stuff”. I think there were about 40 of them on Paleo websites, Weston Price and others. essentially a giant PR campaign.

    The fact that she is an English major and an independent blogger bothers me, especially when others have pointed out that she made some serious errors in her critique before sending it out to the world. Since I have no idea how to interpret data myself it all just makes me confused.

    I don’t know if she is associated with the WPF. They (WPF) have an entire section of papers on their website for vegetarians about why you shouldn’t be a vegetarian. To me that looks a little nefarious, especially when they have logos on their website promoting grass fed beef and wild fish, among other things. Is it any surprise that an organization telling people to eat liver, raw milk, cream cheese, meat and seafood would totally be at odds with Dr. Campbell?

    Mercola may mean well, but he sure sells a lot of stuff on his website. That doesn’t look too good for a serious professional.

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