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China Study on Sudden Cardiac Death

The China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project directed by T. Colin Campbell and colleagues showed that chronic diseases such as heart disease are not inevitable consequences of aging.

October 13, 2011 |
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What exactly do they mean by sudden cardiac death?  It's defined as the sudden, unexpected natural death from a cardiac cause a short time (generally < an hour) after the onset of symptoms in a person without any known previous condition.

Most know the number one killer of both men and women in the United States is heart disease.  What people may not know, though, is that according to the American Heart Association, for the  majority of Americans that die of heart disease, their first symptom occurs not years before they die, but literally minutes before they die. In our last hour on this Earth, in agony, all the dietary change in the world isn’t going to reverse our course. Even if the paramedics snatch our milkshake away, refusing to stop at our favorite fast food joint en route to the hospital it’s too late. One moment we're talking with our family, and less than an hour later we could be gone forever.

 The number one cause of death in America is not just heart disease, but more specifically sudden cardiac death.  People dropping dead in their 30s 40s 50s

Is that just what happens when you get old, though? Your ticker just konks out? The pump just wears out.

 That’s why Dr. T. Colin Campbell's work was so revolutionary. In fact he’s the reason I chose Cornell. At the same time Ornish was studying what affect a plant-based diet was having on hundreds of people, Campbell and colleagues were studying hundreds of thousands.  Here's just one of the 894 pages of the Oxford-Cornell-China study. Let me share just one statistic.  Gway-joe county, in China,  where, among a population of 246,000 men, over three years, there was not a single recorded death from coronary artery disease. If that was in the U.S. , that many men, it would be thousands of recorded deaths. Instead there were none.

 So when Dr. Esselstyn talks about how most heart disease is a "toothless paper tiger that need never exist and if it does exist need never progress,” he’s not exaggerating.  Nobody else has to die.  Plant-based diets can prevent, successfully treat, and even reverse our number one killer.

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out Our number one killer can be stopped as well as Resuscitating Medicare, and don't forget all the other videos on heart health and heart disease. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

Check out my associated blog posts fore more context: Heart Disease: there is a Cure, Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent Sudden Death, Eating To Extend Our Lifespan, and Treating Crohn’s Disease With Diet.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out Our number one killer can be stopped as well as Resuscitating Medicare, and don’t forget all the other videos on heart health and heart disease. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/gio/ Gio
    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/bpcveg/ BPC

      Gio,

      Thanks for this thought-provoking link.

      I feel that Dr. Eades’ argument was weak in two major ways, namely:

      #1: The China study was not interpreted with respect to the totality of evidence in favor of a whole foods plant based diet; Of course, no single health science study, even randomized-control trials, provides full-proof scientific evidence. Expert interpretation is valuable since it provides a bird’s eye view.

      #2: A plausible alternative hypothesis was not provided that could explain the correlations found by Campbell and co-workers. These Atkins’ followers seem to have a one-track mind, always blaming refined carbohydrates for everything, with little data to support their position; They never apply the same standard of criticism to their own work as to that of the pro-veg movement.

      Therefore, I find it hard to take Dr. Eades and other Atkins’ followers seriously!

      But, I read ‘The China study’ and think that Dr. Cambell’s claim that animal protein promotes cancer is, at this stage, more of a hypothesis than a medical fact.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mike-quinoa/ Mike Quinoa

    Gio,

    Dr. Eades, who wrote the analysis, is a proponent of a high animal protein diet. It makes perfect sense he would find fault with the China Study—I would expect no less. Are there any critical reviews of the China Study made by a detached third-party that you are aware of?

    The real-world experiences of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Dean Ornish in preventing and reversing heart disease, and the methods by which their results were obtained, cannot be refuted. Nor can the evidence found in the PDAY study, which demonstated conclusively the atherosclerotic-producing nature of the SAD.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/spiral/ Spiral

    The criticisms against Dr. Campbell’s “The China Study” book don’t hold up very well, if one has actually read the book.

    However, I can see how those criticisms might convince someone to not bother reading the book at all. I think that this is the main purpose of these criticisms, to bias people against Dr. Campbell’s book to the point where they don’t read it and therefore can’t be persuaded by it.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/LiviuDeacu/ Liviu Deacu

    I’m also highly interested to find out the truth about the value of the China study and who has the interest in blaming its value.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/meha/ Meha

    Mike Quinoa, do you know Jack Norris and Virginia Messina? They recommend a vegan diet, but are against the Campbell’s approach. It’s the same speech: correlation is not causation, RCT is the golden standart, etc.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mike-quinoa/ Mike Quinoa

    Hi Meha,

    Yes, I know of Jack Norris and Virginia Messina. I appreciate the fact they never sugarcoat any contrary scientific evidence re: the vegan diet. They want the healthiest possible vegans out there. To me, a radiantly-healthy vegan is the best advert for a plant-based diet.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Heart Disease: there is a Cure!

  • factUnicorn

    There are a number of issues with Cambell’s (and others such as Ornish) selective interpretation and manipulation of the China Study data. No other study has replicated the findings of the China Study and multiple academics and scientists have handily provided alternative ways of interpreting the data. Oh and three of the five sources cited above are just different publications of the same China Study data.

    Please read the following articles for proper, critical analyses of the
    Study and its misleading use in promising prevention and cures that
    don’t/can’t/won’t deliver.
    1. http://www.skepdic.com/chinastudy.html
    2. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/385/
    3. http://rawfoodsos.com/the-china-study/
    4. http://www.foodrenegade.com/the-china-study-discredited/

    Please no anecdotal evidence if you reply to this post – here’s why: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence

    Eat with moderation. Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke. Limit alcohol. And hope you have decent genes. Now those are replicated, falsifiable scientific theories of maintaining good health.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1452887700 Dennis Rojo

      SAD diet…cholesterol 239, plant based diet (NO STATINS), Cholesterol 168…that’s NOT anecdotal you jerk..that’s a fact. And thousands and thousands of plant based eaters get the same results.

      • robert

        My personal China study: SAD diet was 320 total cholesterol, and plant-based is now 158 w/o meds.

  • Karna

    Are there valid criticisms of T Colin Campbell’s book The China Study? I have become plant based recently and am looking for scientifically based information to share with family. I want to make sure I am using credible information.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      The China Study was an ecological research study that was very unique in its design for instance in the communities tested they pooled urine and blood samples. Like all scientific studies they can be criticized for their strengths and weaknesses. The conclusions are consistent with the good scientific research and what we currently know about our anatomy and physiology (we are hind-gut fermenting herbivores adapted to better consume starches). The best diet is a variety of whole plant based foods based on adequate starches to insure adequate glucose intake to meet our caloric needs… also insuring an adequate intake of Vit B12. The shifting of the paradigm is occurring but folks hang onto old beliefs and change at different speeds. Critiques are usually well meaning but can reflect vested self interests… pushing supplements like we in medicine sometimes push pills. The best in depth demonstration of this phenomenon is the issue of screening mammography. The science is clear at this point… no screening mammograms for women at any age. The best information on this contained in the Nordic Cochrane Center’s 2012 pamphlet and Dr. Peter Gotzsche’s book which dissects out all the studies and the misleading statistics. At this time as a Family Medicine physician I can no longer recommend them. It saves me some time but I takes a while to explain to my patients the reasons since we have been advocating them for so long. Interacting with others who have not made the shift to the best diet is difficult. The best discussion I have seen is by Dr. Doug Lisle’s video, Getting Along without Going Along. He is a psychologist who works at the McDougall clinic and the video is available through Dr. McDougall’s website. Congratulations on becoming plant based I think you will find it a rewarding and healthful journey.

  • Julia Kravets

    I’m pretty convinced about a plant based diet for optimal health. However, this in-depth critique of the China Study leaves me a bit uneasy about the rationale of the evaluation of the data. I would appreciate a response from you, since you seem to be somewhat unbiased in your data analysis, and still fully support a plant based diet.

    Here’s the link: http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/07/31/one-year-later-the-china-study-revisited-and-re-bashed/

    Thanks a lot!

  • Luc

    I was in Guizhou about 5 years ago. To 镇远(zhenyuan) means far-away-place , if my translation is right. The hotpot is their favorite food there and I can assure you , when I met up with my chinese frieds there ( not a vegetarian at that time ) we all ate a lot of meat.
    An anecdote : My vegetarian friend who also travels to China often was given the chinese nickname meaning “rabbit” haha

  • dee

    Can congestive heart failure be reversed? if so how? How can you strengthen the heart to get better results on hyour echo-cardio gram?