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Are All Proteins Created Equal?

Are All Proteins Created Equal?
Written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell

I recently received a question that is one of the most commonly asked questions of me. Because this particular question seems to be of such interest, I thought it might make sense to turn my answer to this recurring question into this week�s blog. Here is the question: isn�t protein from any source, whether from animals or plants, similar in its biological effects?

The short answer to this question is �No.� When a dozen or so animal proteins were compared in animal studies with a dozen or so plant proteins, ALL animal proteins generated higher levels of serum cholesterol than did ALL plant proteins. Similarly, these two forms of protein do not have the same �biological value�, a concept that speaks to their abilities to support body growth and their efficiency of utilization.

And if you read �The China Study,� you may already know of our experiments showing how animal protein can stimulate cancer growth. Animal protein promotes cancer growth when fed at levels in excess of protein needs, but plant proteins when fed in isolation and at the same levels do not. We studied this protein effect extensively, it was peer-reviewed multiple times, it was supported by NIH funding and it was published in the very best science journals.

Interestingly, the animal protein we used in these experiments was casein (from dairy). Based on the data from these studies and on traditional carcinogen testing criteria, casein is the most relevant chemical carcinogen we ever tested, with a high probability that all animal-based proteins would do the same thing, similar to their behavior with other responses.

I realize that one could make the argument that plant-based proteins could be carcinogenic and act like animal-based proteins if they are fed in isolation and at a high enough level. But in reality, we get our nutrients from whole foods, or at least we should, and for this reason it is impossible to consume plant protein at such a high level. In addition, any theoretical ill effects would be limited by the consumption of multiple anti-disease components of plants.

In the case of plant and animal proteins, they are not created equal. As components of food, one can cause illness; the other becomes an essential element of a healthy diet.


The Challenge of Telling the Truth
Written by Nelson Campbell

In recent days, my father�s research in China has come under attack on the web by people and groups who have read an extensive but scientifically unsound critique of the China Study. Despite lacking an adequate understanding of statistics and causality, this person used her intelligence and writing skills to compose a critique that might seem persuasive to laypeople. (See my father�s response.) People opposed to my father�s views have used this as an opportunity to criticize his research, and even to mock his intelligence and character.

This sad episode is another reminder of the challenges we face in communicating the truth of health to the public. And it is a reminder of why those who know this truth need to join hands in common purpose. Those of us who are taking the lead in this effort should strive to make the cause of honest science and truth-telling our primary concern, of greater importance than our more narrow personal interests.

When we launched Campbell Coalition, we hesitated to use the name �Campbell.� Time and again, however, people close to us suggested we use this name because my father is known by so many people. For marketing reasons, we decided to accept this advice, but we feel strongly that the idea of plant-based nutrition is a universal idea with no connection to any one person. It is an idea that comes from Nature, and an idea that no one person can lay claim to. It does not matter who discovered what, or who did what; what matters is working together to communicate the truth of health to the public.

To emphasize the social aspect of our long-term plans at Campbell Coalition, we are pursuing a long-term strategy that will enable us to recycle the financial return we generate back into the cause (see Our Big Idea). We are hoping that this might illuminate a pathway for others to follow, where financial, reputational, and other such interests are subordinated to the larger cause we all believe in.

We hope you can join with us, and we urge support not only of Campbell Coalition, but of every person and organization involved in promoting the message of plant-based nutrition. Everyone�s efforts are important. This is not what economists call a �zero-sum game� where one person�s gain is another�s loss; rather any person who succeeds in changing the life of another through plant-based nutrition benefits us all.

I also would like to offer one other idea for your consideration. Namely, we should keep an open attitude toward those who are fighting our message. Everyone is a mother, father, brother and/or sister of someone else, so we all have a stake in the truth. But the truth can find a home only where it is welcomed; for this reason, it is imperative that we always strive to appeal to people�s positive instincts.


Copyright � Campbell Coalition 2010

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