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We’re constantly bombarded with the message that we might die if we don’t eat enough protein, but our country isn’t sick or dying from protein deficiency- we’re sick and dying from disease. Our protein intake as a country is also extremely high, with meat, dairy, eggs, toxic-filled whey protein powders, fish, pork, poultry, and highly-processed meat and cheese products ranking as some of the most popular in our culture today. And it’s pretty easy, considering that the media promotes a high protein diet and a McDonald’s is located on every corner. Then there’s the supermarket where an abundance of processed lunch meats exist and over 30 varieties of cheese, with likely over 50 choosings of yogurt. Protein, protein, protein- it surrounds us everywhere we go. While protein intake is an important part of the human diet, perhaps we need to take a step back and assess the increase in animal protein in this country with with our increased rate of disease that goes along with it.

The Man Behind The Plant-Based Anti-Cancer Movement

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, has spent 50 years researching the correlation between diet and cancer. He’s dedicated his life to showing people how cancer prevention begins with what we put on our forks, and what we don’t. Dr. Campbell recently gave a speech in Hawaii where he proposed that our high protein intake isn’t just unnecessary, it’s also a huge problem when it comes to increased cancer risks. Dr. Campbell (who actually grew up on a dairy farm) has spent limitless energy investigating and proving how a plant-based diet has the ability to prevent and even treat cancer. He’s linked casein intake to multiple types of cancer, and meat consumption to prostate and colon cancer.

But he hasn’t stopped there. Regardless that Colin has faced extreme criticism from the medical world and the entire food industry, Colin hasn’t backed down on his beliefs or his investment in research studies to get to the bottom of America’s cancer problem. Dr. Campbell has been a long-time believer that a diet high in animal protein intake is a leading cause of cancer – and he’s got the research to back it up.

What Does the Research Say?

Meat and dairy have specifically been linked to increased cancer risks, and giving up dairy is one of the best things a person can do to decrease their risks of developing cancer or experiencing cancer cell growth. In 1968, Campbell detailed a studied that was the first widely accepted study to be published regarding the intake of animal protein and increased cancer risk. Researchers found that the animals in the study who ate a diet made up of 20 percent protein had the strongest tumor growth rate, while animals only fed five percent protein had absolutely no tumor growth whatsoever. Over three weeks, animals were fed the same rates of protein and those who ate a diet of 20 percent experienced massive, fast tumor growth, while those who at only five percent protein still had no tumor growth whatsoever. For the last three weeks of the study, researchers removed protein from the animals’ diet that were eating 20 percent protein and their tumor growths completely stopped.

The unique part about the study was that an increase in plant-based proteins intake showed no increase in tumor growth rate. This is clear evidence that animal protein contributes to cancer and plant-based proteins do not. Colin concludes that increased protein consumption is like flipping the cancer switch on, while eating minimal amounts turns the switch back off.

But Don’t We Need Protein?

While we do need protein, perhaps we don’t need so much as we might think. The Center for Disease Control and Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine both agree we are getting plenty of protein and that protein deficiency is not a problem in our society, especially in comparison to the cancer problem we have. The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) even says that we actually get too much protein, around double of what we really need. They advise using the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) protein formula, which is : 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for the average adult. To find out your average individual need, multiply your body weight in pounds by your recommended protein intake in grams.

How to Plant-Based Proteins Play a Part?

Plant-based proteins should be sourced, according to Dr. Campbell and to PCRM, from whole, plant-based foods such as leafy greens, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains- not processed products or animal products. According to Dr. Campbell and to PCRM, eating a diet that includes a serving of legumes, greens, vegetables and grains at each meal, will provide plenty of protein, along with wholesome, plant-based nutrients.

More on Dr. Campbell and Cancer Prevention

Dr. Campbell has funded the nonprofit organization, T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, based in Ithaca, NY at Cornell University, which provides comprehensive education for individuals interested in plant-based  nutrition. The school offers a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition and has become a nationally-recognized nutrition education program. Campbell also has a documentary coming out called Plant Pure Nation, due in early 2015, which will be produced by his son, Nelson Campbell.

“Diet can be used to prevent and reverse cancer just like it prevents and reverses heart disease,” said Dr. Campbell. “A diet high in animal protein increases the amount of carcinogens going to the cells. It increases the enzyme MFO (mixed function oxidase) that causes increased carcinogenic activity.”

Image Source: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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401 comments on “Are We Eating Too Much Protein? A Scientist Makes the Connection Between Protein and Cancer”

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Susan Kline
6 Months Ago

This really makes you think.


Reply
Zach Rosenberg
6 Months Ago

Elana Since we were talking about this today and it just came up on my news feed :)


Reply
Elana Thurston-Milgrom
15 Dec 2016

I'll work on it, thanks for the article :)

Lesley Pitman
6 Months Ago

Diet - I think plays a huge part in our lives - so choose carefully what you eat & my Dad used to say everything in moderation - he lived until he was 91!


Reply
Rick Luzzi
6 Months Ago

Protein is acid, a very acidic system is good for cancer to thrive


Reply
Sara Hencke
6 Months Ago

LeeCarol Copeland.....fyi


Reply
LeeCarol Copeland
12 Dec 2016

Thanks. I have restrictions of eliminating Estrogen producing foods; such as all legumes, peas, peanuts, alfalfa sprouts. There are 12 foods on the list! Thanks for sharing ???

Molly Ann
6 Months Ago

Ali Kazaneh


Reply
Becky Noia
6 Months Ago

For the most part, if we eat things in moderation, we would all be better off. If you like meat, eat it--just not too much. If you don't like meat, don't eat it. There are plenty of ways to get what you need. Unfortunately, I like and eat what I want, just because I want it. That's not always the best way to eat healthy.


Reply
Sandra C. Davila
6 Months Ago

John Angel D


Reply
Susan Connolly
6 Months Ago

Interesting. What toxins are in my whey protein?


Reply
Morgan Elisabeth Hamlin
6 Months Ago

I eat protein because i don't want to look like that guy


Reply
Connie
14 Apr 2017

He is 83. For 83 he looks really good.



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