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My Last Post on the Anti-China-Study Mercola Newsletter

Robyn Openshaw - Sep 10, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Related to questions received from yesterday’s post—

I don’t know if anyone has critiqued the China Study who isn’t associated with the Weston A. Price Foundation. All the criticism I have read has been. I’m not sure who financed Denise Minger, a 23-year old college student and “professional sock puppeteer” who is paid to write nutrition/health articles, according to her facebook profile.

Again, my friends, I trust Oxford and Cornell’s research (I grilled Campbell about his funding sources)   a bit more than a college student and will be interested to read the Johns Hopkins epidemiologists’ and Campbell’s rebuttals to her arguments.

What else might be to blame for a vegan diet making people feel unwell? There are many answers to that, but the problem is that over and over, comments reveal that

People think I am advocating for a vegan diet.

I’m not.

What I advocate for is eating far more plant food. Period. It’s up to you to decide where animal protein belongs in your life, if it does.

Can anyone really disagree with eating far more whole plant foods, in the face of America’s average of 1-2 servings daily, half of that being in the form of fried potatoes? In the face of now THOUSANDS of studies (even if you leave the China Study out of it?) telling us that myriad compounds in raw plant food heal us and prevent degenerative disease?

I believe when we’ve been eating a certain way (i.e., 20% animal protein, a U.S. average), we often experience a reaction that isn’t entirely pleasant when we shift that balance. Just like when you try to change patterns in a relationship, the other person often doesn’t like or understand it and chaos ensues until a new equilibrium is achieved. If you eat meat for dinner every night for 50 years, and one night you eat a vegetarian meal and you don’t feel the same afterward, does that mean that vegetables and brown rice aren’t good for you personally?

I purposefully leave you to your own personal experimentation to find what works for you. I don’t say there’s a “one size fits all” approach. I’m not into “typing,” until I see some major data backing it up. My interest is primarily in practical ways to actually DO what others’ research has already documented very well. I would like to see us return to eating whole foods. (However, my own research published in The Green Smoothies Diet is a slam-dunk that when we eat more green foods, we feel better–almost 96% of us do, anyway.)

If some want to ignore SEVERAL THOUSAND statistically significant pieces of data in the China Study, that is their prerogative. (Statistically significant means the findings fall outside the margin of error.)

I maintain my own prerogative to point out some problems underpinning Mercola’s wholesale rejection of those thousands of data points, as he sells his nutritional typing and related animal-protein products.

Mercola says he has THREE specific eating plans and about 33% of the Western population fits in each one. He says those ratios are different in other countries. I would like to see the data behind that, peer reviewed in a scientific journal. Because if there isn’t any, it’s a grand assertion with big, potentially dangerous, ramifications for people following those recommendations.

Posted in: Whole Food

24 thoughts on “My Last Post on the Anti-China-Study Mercola Newsletter”

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  1. “I don’t know if anyone has critiqued the China Study who isn’t associated with the Weston A. Price Foundation”

    Are you saying Mercola is associated with the WAPF? And Anthony Colpo? And Michael Eades? It is a bizarre statement to say that if you critique the China Study you must be associated with the WAPF. It is like the UFO nuts saying anyone who doesn’t believe in UFOs is a government operative.

    Below is a link to another critique of the China Study by Science Based Medicine, a rather reputable organization. Read all the comments as well. They are particularly interesting because a strong China Study supporter actually changes his mind when faced with facts.

    I really don’t care about Mercola or what other people choose to eat, but it annoying when false information is perpetuated (like that Minger is associated with the WAPF.)

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      CPM, I was asked if anyone non-WAPF has critiqued the China Study. Mercola had not critiqued the China Study (what he wrote is no critique, though the college student Minger wrote one). I answered the question I was asked, saying I don’t know. (How do you find out who funded critiques? How do you even know who funds the WAPF?)

      I do not know who Minger works for, though she says on facebook she writes for LiveStrong. Although I was told by a scientist I spoke with that she is WAPF, I do not know that.

      I am talking only about critiques of the study. I am not talking about people critical of it (Mercola, etc.) because anyone who (a) eats a lot of animals and animal products, or (b) makes a living based on other people eating animals and animal products, will naturally be critical.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “What I advocate for is eating far more plant food. Period. It’s up to you to decide where animal protein belongs in your life, if it does.”

    I absolutely agree with this. Everything that you teach, and all your recipes, are useful to me, regardless of what else I add in!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, I think you make excellent points for the China Study and against this Mercola tripe. The angry comments and hate mail are coming from people who don’t want to hear that their diet is killing them. Those are the people who can’t be reached, who aren’t open to hearing new opinions. It’s a sad reality, but there it is. There are people who don’t want to change what they eat, who want to continue their typical American diet complete with convience foods, and they resent people who advocate something different.

    It’s like the Emily Dickenson poem:

    Much Madness is divinest Sense-

    To a discerning Eye-

    Much Sense-the starkest Madness-

    ‘Tis the Majority

    In this, as All, prevail-

    Assent- and you are sane-

    Demur- you’re straightway dangerous-

    And handled with a Chain-

    Keep up your fantastic work, and don’t worry about the critics. Twenty, thirty, or fifity years from now the China Study will be touted as practically prophetical. Two hundred years, and people may very well look at the way most of America ate with something akin to horror. Don’t get too worked up over this Mercola thing; time will vindicate us.

  4. Anonymous says:

    testing – none of my comments are posting

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      E.W., I don’t have any other comments from you, to approve. ?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn,

    do you know why my comments aren’t posting? I wrote out a lengthy comment that I feel brings up some important points, but it isn’t showing up.


    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Liz, I see only this from you, and another one saying two paragraphs of your comment posted and two didn’t–I don’t have any other two paragraphs. ??

  6. Anonymous says:

    Your clarification is well put and I (still) agree with your logic–pertaining to TCS. I do want to offer another point for you and your readers.

    Scientific data is tricky. When a physician makes a decision, when data is published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), it is usually a result from good data. What does good data look like: multi-center (vs. single); randomized (vs. non); prospective (vs. retro); core lab adjudicated. This is what is called “Level 1” data. L1D is very tough to achieve and you don’t see it often.

    Two dangers in your take-away points:

    First: TCS is not L1D. As I read it, it is (and I’m open for direction if I’m wrong): single center, non-randomized, retrospective no adjudication. Retrospective being the biggest concern.

    Second: Basing a decision on statistically significant numbers can (read: CAN) be dangerous. If you don’t know how those numbers were achieved (L1D vs. non), you have to be careful at hanging your hat on them.

    Just because Oxford and Cornell do research, doesn’t make it L1D. Reputable? Sure. Reliable? Open for debate. To your point of “THOUSANDS of studies” telling us myriad of information–there is just as many studies on benefits and safety of fluoride in water, yet you seem to ignore that. Does that make you unreliable? Ignorant? Up in the night? Perhaps, to some! But you have made a personal decision based on what you see as good data. I, for one, still read and apply many of your suggestions despite what I think an error in judgment with fluoride.

    Where is your data that “96% of people” feel “better” after eating your diet? This teeters on what you criticize Mercola on: no references. This is what I spoke to yesterday when I called your report ad hominem. Whenever we allow critiques to go ad hominem, Karma usually rears its ugly head. Your readers should be very careful when digesting (no pun intended) “96%” efficacy–but I’m not going to blog about your one mistake and try and discredit you, your site, nor your cause.

    I hope this helps shed some light on and adds value to a great topic.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:


      L1D is a very high bar indeed. Very, very few studies will clear that difficult, expensive bar. That doesn’t mean studies that don’t deserve no credit.

      I say “reliable” because Campbell’s lab results (using animals) were repeated with consistent results around the globe. Please read the book or the study itself for more info.

      Fluoride is a toxic petroleum byproduct and not bioavailable in the chemical forms, and I support your freedom to eat it. I don’t want it in my water supply, though. That’s forcible medication.

      I have not “ad hominem” attacked Mercola’s character. I defended Campbell’s. He has done so, himself, even better and I will post that today.

      That credibility-contest gauntlet was thrown down by Mercola. Defenses are appropriate and in fact necessary.

      Where is my data? You can read about my small and not particularly scientifically piece of research regarding the results for regular green smoothie drinkers in my book, The Green Smoothies Diet. Results were posted a year ago on this blog as well. 95.4% in the study said that green smoothies noticeably improved their health or quality of life. I wanted to see how my own results would compare to Victoria Boutenko’s (she worked with 30 people; I worked with 175).

  7. Anonymous says:

    For the record:

    1) My bank account funded me. I have absolutely no affiliation with the WAPF, and as I understand it, they aren’t exactly swimming in moolah anyway. I *lost* a fair bit of money during this whole project because I was using the time I’d usually spend working to do research without pay.

    2) Even though I am no longer vegan, my own diet is still full o’ plants — and I have nothing to gain, personally or financially, by promoting animal products. (I actually love green smoothies, by the way. :)). My concern is with inaccurate science, no matter what side it’s coming from. And unfortunately, even the stuff published in well-respected peer-reviewed journals by scientists with a stack of credentials can be flawed, misleading, and contorted to fit a desired outcome.

    I’m really looking forward to hearing whatever the epidemiologists have to say, as I think there’s nothing better than maintaining an open and ongoing dialogue about diet issues.

    “If some want to ignore SEVERAL THOUSAND statistically significant pieces of data in the China Study, that is their prerogative. (Statistically significant means the findings fall outside the margin of error.)” — This is part of the problem, though: Within these thousands of statistically significant associations, many of them are confounded by other variables, none of them link animal products (singularly or in the aggregate) directly with heart disease or most other Western diseases once confounders are adjusted for, and they do not present an “overarching theme” pointing to animal products as the root of disease. In fact, the strongest and most robust association seems to be between wheat and cardiovascular conditions. But even the strongest correlations can’t ‘prove’ anything because of the nature of the study — observational, epidemiological.

    Anyway, sorry to barge in here — I just wanted to make it clear that I’m not a WAPF shill, any more than Campbell is a PETA member. 🙂

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Thanks Denise. You’re not barging in here, thanks for posting. I look forward to the ongoing debate. It’s all in the name of finding the truth.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just tried posting again, but the 2 paragraphs didn’t show up. I will email my comments to you, if you don’t mind posting.

    Thanks, and despite any critical comments, I love my green smoothies. I don’t however, like comments that imply any criticism represents a close-minded person (Cora). I hope I am misunderstanding, because dissension and real dialogue is one of the most important activities we can engage in our quest for real health.

    I continue to enjoy my green smoothies and engaging in important discussions regarding health.



  9. Anonymous says:

    ok, sorry to dominate the discussion, but my original long comment indicated that it posted, because when I resent, it showed that I had made duplicate entries. And, I’m not finding an email address to send my comments to 🙁

    Would anyone else kindly post my comments for me? (i.e., we’d have to exchange email addresses).



    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      You can email and ask that they post your comments.

  10. Anonymous says:


    What is going on. First Mercola attacks The China Study, and today is newsletter is absolutely blasting alkaline water ionizers as useless and dangerous. Can you please help us understand this?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      I’ve given a lot of my week to defending things and people against Mercola, Ross. You can read my reports on alkaline water on the site. For now. I may take on his issues in detail but need to get some other things done first. 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:

    Appreciate the pointing to where I can find your data. Looking forward to more interesting reading. Moving forward, I suppose this is the line in the sand we will have to draw. When I first happened on your site last week, I had the same complaints you do about Mercola (minimal references, sketchy data, looking to make a buck).

    Your 95.4% “data” to me is anything but. It is a single-center, non-randomized, retrospective approach to prove a point. That is like me surveying 175 people in UT County to prove that Utah is too conservative politically. Loading the data. Stacking the deck.

    To be fair, you did point that out above–but I can’t tell if you are being facetious. Perhaps in your book you give the same caveat. At that point, this becomes a non-issue. I just don’t want someone who has zero experience with data to take what you say at face value-on the surface it looks very compelling.

    Having been forced to transform my diet the past 2 years, I appreciate your insight and suggestions. It fills some gaps I’ve been looking for. Either a gift or curse, when I see conflicting data, I’m going to shine my light on it. Nothing personal.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      JP, no offense taken, shine away. If the feedback of 175 converts to green smoothies doesn’t compel you, the beautiful news is, you’re free to eat anything you want.

      I personally think 50% losing weight (18 lb. average reported) is exciting. Boutenko’s study isn’t randomized either (good luck with that one, but if can find a way to undertake that study, I will be happy to report it here). Till then, some data is better than no data. We do what we can. Holding me to the bar cleared only by the most well-funded university / government studies isn’t realistic.

      However, certainly I did not undertake my research to “prove a point.” I undertook it to see generally what people experience drinking green smoothies, and specifically, if V. Boutenko’s top three answers in her Roseburg study would parallel mine. And the results were consistent: top three answers from both researchers were more energy, better digestion, and weight loss–for more than half of respondents, in each category. (Weight loss did not actually make my top 3, but since 50% achieved it and, if the U.S. average can be applied of 70% overweight, I believe the fact that 30% not NEEDING weight loss suggests that answer probably belongs in the top three.)

      Incidentally, not all the results were positive. Over 18 percent of regular green smoothie drinkers have an uncomfortable cleansing reaction.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hey Robyn, following with great interest the dialogue over china study.

    In your next post would you consider explaining what a week with a 5%

    animal protein whatever (sorry, it’s late and I can’t think what it’s

    called!) looks like? That would help to clarify for a lot off people who

    are hanging on to meat how much they could actually eat in a week and

    fall within the range of the study. So glad you’re smart enough to duke

    all this out for us! Many thanks!

    And my, does a fresh mango turn a gs into smooth and heavenly bliss!!


  13. Anonymous says:

    You have chosen a very extreme diet path to live and defend. It’s a dangerous one given the fact that in the 21st century science changes so quickly. (Also given that man has not evolved to thrive on a strict plant diet.) I know that your personality type couldn’t live with anything less. It’s your prerogative. But if you’re going to use science as a bedrock of your defense, know that you’re on shaky ground. Especially since the very lack of scientific evidence you use against Mercola is the same thing he criticizes in the Campbell study.

    Every person must figure out through trial and error which foods make them feel the best. Angelina Jolie just said, “”I joke that a big juicy steak is my beauty secret,” said Jolie “But seriously, I love red meat. I was a vegan for a long time, and it nearly killed me. I found I was not getting enough nutrition.”

    And what’s your beef with WAPF? You changed your words from “dead wrong” to strongly disagree with them. Good move.

    I’m also glad to see that you have changed your focus from “world domination through raw food” to “eat more plant food.” Things evolve.

    And a word on funding. If using government money is a more altruistic way to perform a study then you have some explaining to do regarding the FDA.

    I love green smoothies. I love organic produce. I love anyone who takes on conventional wisdom and I love the health debate. Keep up the good work. People need options. Don’t let the fight bother you. It’s what you live for, right?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Dawny, none of the quotes you attribute (to me, right?) are things I’ve said–not “world domination,” not “dead wrong,” not “strongly disagree with.” Nor do I choose an extreme diet path–I teach 60-80% raw, mostly plant foods; I’m not even a vegetarian.


      Are you thinking of someone else? GreenSmoothieQueen, maybe? Different site, different person, different philosophy. Good person (friend of mine).

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