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Diets that protected against cancers in China.


Editor's note: The Post doesn't like to boast that "we told you so"--but the truth is we told you so. Five years ago, in fact.

Our July/August 1985 issue reported the landmark study in China that proved how diets protect against cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Recently, and five years later, Jane Brody in the New York Times termed this a "Grand Prix of epidemiology." Jane Brody was right. This landmark study should shake up medical and nutrition researchers everywhere. It should have five years ago!

Dr. T. Colin Campbell told us then that the numbers would take a long time to analyze, and researchers would have enough material to keep them busy for a very long time before all the facts would be published in professional journals.

Dr. Campbell predicted that the "living laboratory" will continue to generate vital findings for the next 40 to 50 years. We knew that many of our readers wouldn't be around then to benefit, so we wrote from memory and printed the material that had been presented to the assembled nutritionists. Then we waited patiently for further analysis of the data.

Because of the 1985 article's importance, we're reprinting it along with Jane Brody's recent excellent piece about the project. Her summary makes a strong argument that what we've been urging Post readers to eat for the past two decades is right on target.

Post-tested Chinese recipes follow our 1985 reprint.

We were fortunate to hear the presentation of what is sure to become a landmark study of diet related to cancer mortality. "What we got was a snapshot in time--something we could have gotten nowhere else in the world," said Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a Cornell University professor of nutritional biochemistry and the director of a massive study of Chinese dietary habits. The results of the study were given as the last event of the three-day 1985 annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition in Washington, D.C. It was the most exciting presentation we had ever witnessed. It was the event we had all been waiting for--the first preliminary results of the massive Chinese diet-cancer study. Dr. Chen Junshui, co-director of the effort, had come from Beijing, China, to speak. His remarks and those of Dr. Campbell were exciting enough to cause any nutrition researcher to want to catch the next flight to China.

Everyone agreed that another study like this one could never be done. It all became possible because more than 800 million Chinese (96.7 percent of the country) had been surveyed between 1973 and 1975. Six-hundred fifty thousand workers went to individual homes in China to find out who had died from cancer.

In 1983, the study designed by Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Chen used the cancer information from the earlier survey, and the types of cancer deaths reported earlier were verified in commune and county hospital records. A trained pool of workers was able to test 13,000 subjects in 65 random counties in rural areas of the country. Because the people ate food grown in their immediate area and weren't mobile, scientists could analyze what they ate. The scientists could then compare diet with cancer mortality.

What the scientists discovered was dramatic, statistically significant data. For example, the commune with the highest serum cholesterol levels had 473 times as many women dying from esophageal cancer as had the communes with the lowest serum cholesterol levels. There were equally wide ranges among males studied.

Chinese who consumed more protein had a higher mortality from cancer of the stomach and esophagus. They also had greater incidences of cancer of the lung, the colon, and the rectum, and moe leukemia than those who consumed less protein.

Communes where serum cholesterol was higher had more deaths from stomach, esophagus, lung, colon, and rectal cancer, as well as leukemia. Communes that had lower serum cholesterol had fewer of these cancer deaths.

Chinese whose selenium intake was higher were less likely to die from esophageal and stomach cancer. Chinese with higher plasma beta carotene levels also had a lower mortality incidence from esophageal and stomach cancer.

Linus Pauling will be happy to note that the Chinese who had higher vitamin C intake were less likely to die from esophageal and stomach cancer. Vitamin A also protected against death from esophageal and stomach cancer.

I asked Dr. Campbell, who conceived the idea for the extraordinary study, to explain how it came about. The project was born in his home one evening during a discussion with Dr. Chen, who was studying at Cornell in 1980. The idea originally was to study only the effects of selenium intake on the cancer mortality incidence. Once into the study, however, the researchers quickly noted that a unique opportunity was at hand to expand the study to include many more dietary components.

In the fall of 1983, blood samples, urine samples, and dietary analyses were taken all over China. The blood samples were studied in unique way by pooling samples from 25 persons at each commune site for combined analysis, but leaving individual samples for later study too. The combined samples were analyzed in both China and the United States, and the information was fed into a computer at Cornell. The results were then compared to the cancer mortality (1973-75) study.

We asked Dr. Chen if he was surprised to find so much more cancer in communes whose diets had been higher in protein. "No," he said. "We expected that because it followed animal experiments that have shown similar increases in cancer in animals on higher-proten diets." Dr. Chen impressed us as a dynamic professional whose work would be painstakingly thorough. Dr. Campbell said, "He's superb. I can think of all kinds of superlatives to describe him."

After the presentation of a study as important as this one, peers question the presenters. Dr. Allan L. Forbes, president of the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Sciences of the FDA, asked about the methods of verifying the cancer diagnoses. Everyone seemed impressed with Dr. Chen's scientifically sound explanation of the methods used.

Dr. Campbell stressed that all findings so far are only preliminary. The significance of even teh preliminary work is astounding. It will take months before all the data are analyzed and the final study is written for publication, however.

Some scientists feel the public shouldn't be informed until 100 percent of the facts are studied. We're glad that Drs. Campbell and Chen were willing to share preliminary data with us. Given the urgency of the cancer problem, we believe that it is already time to eat more of the foods being consumed by those Chinese who had a dramatic protection against cancer in the study. At the Post we are choosing more foods from the low-cholesterol category. We choose fewer high-cholesterol products, such as eggs, cream, and animal fats.

Dr. Campbell told us that, as we expected, those Chinese who ate more fiber had a significantly lower incidence of cancer mortality than those who ate less fiber. It was a particularly good opportunity to make this comparison--the amount of fiber varied from 3 grams a day in some communes to 57 grams a day in others.

At the Post we get as much of our protein as possible from foods that are mostly complex carbohydrates. Cereal grains, legumes, and vegetables are important basics in our menus. High-lysine cornmeal contains about twice as much lysine as regular cornmeal, but by weight and calories, cornmeal is essentially a carbohydrate food. If you can get your essential amino acids (protein) from a variety of cereal grains, legumes, and vegetables, we believe you are on the way to a cancer-protection diet. We hope to learn a lot more about the Chinese study, and we will be reporting the results in future issues of the Post.

The following is a list of foods to choose and not choose. We've selected these from the NCI book Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention: A Guide to Food Choices. All the institute's suggestions are borne out by the preliminary results of the Chinese study.

Choose More Often

Peas and beans:

* Pinto, black, kidney, garbanzo, navy, white, and lima beans; lentils; black-eyed and split peas

Low-fat or ski-milk dairy products:

* Low-fat or skim milk and buttermilk

* Low-fat yogurt

* Skimmed evaporated milk, nonfat dry milk

* Low-fat cheese (ricotta, pot, farmer or cottage, mozzarella, or cheeses made from skim milk)

* Sherbet, frozen low-fat yogurt, ice milk

Fats and oils:

* "Diet" and low-fat salad dressings

* Low-fat margarine

Lower-fat poultry, fish, and meat:

* Chicken, turkey, Rock Cornish hens (without skins)

* Fresh and frozen water-packed canned fish and shellfish

Snack foods:

* Fruits and vegetables

* Breads and cereals

Cruciferous vegetables:

* Choose several servings each week. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, turnips.

Food preparation:

* Baking, oven broiling, boiing, stewing (skimming off fat), poaching, stir-frying, simmering, steaming

* Use nonstick cookware to avoid extra fat

* Season vegetables with herbs, spices, or lemon juice

Choose Less Often

Higher-fat poultry, fish, and meat:

* Duck and goose

* Poultry with skin

* Frozen fish stick, tuna packed in oil

* Regular luncheon meats, sausage

* Beef, veal, lamb, and pork cuts with marbling, untrimmed of fat

Full-fat dairy products:

* Whole milk

* Butter

* Yogurt made from whole milk

* Sweet cream, sour cream, Half-andHalf[Registered], whipped cream, other creamy toppings (inclouding imitation)

* Cream cheese, cheese spreads, Camembert, Brie

* Hard cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, bleu, American, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, etc.

* Ice cream

* Coffee creamers (including nondairy)

* Cream sauces, cream soups

Fats and oils:

* Vegetable and salad oils, shortening, lard, meat fats, bacon

* Mayonnaise and salad dressings

* Margarine

* Gravies, butter sauces

Snack and bakery foods:

* Donuts, pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, brownies

* Potato chips and snack crackers

* CAnned puddings, icings, candies made with butter, chocolate

* Granola, croissants

Food preparations to avoid:

* Batter and deep-fat frying, sauteing

* Use of fatty gravies and sauces

* Adding cream or butter to vegetables


Oriental Chicken Salad

(Makes four 3-cup servings)

1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped 1 head Napa cabbage 1 pound (4 cups) raw mushrooms, sliced 3/4 pound (3 cups) cooked chicken breast, julienne cut 1 cup chopped scallion tops 1 cup snow peas, strings removed, ends notched in a V-shape and blanched 1 cup fresh bean sprouts 1 cup water chestnuts, julienne cut 1 cup Oriental Dressing (see recipe that follows) 1/4 cup red and yellow bell peppers for garnish, julienne cut

Place chopped almonds in preheated 350[degrees] F. oven 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully, as they burn easily. Set aside.

Place 3 Napa cabbage leaves on each of 4 chilled plates for garnish. Shred the rest; you should have 4 cups.

Combine shredded cabbage, mushrooms, chicken, scallion tops, snow peas, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and Oriental Dressing and toss thoroughly.

Spoon 3 cups salad mixture onto each plate, and top each with 1 tablespoon toasted almonds and 1 tablespoon red and yellow bell peppers.

Oriental Dressing

(Makes 1 cup)

6 tablesspoons rice wine vinegar 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil 2 teaspoons Angostura low-sodium soy sauce 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened pineapple juice concentrate, undiluted 1-1/2 teaspoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger root 1/2 garlic clove (1/2 teaspoon), chopped 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in blender container and mix well.

Refrigerate dressing in tightly covered contained. Mix well before each use.

Egg Drop Soup

(Makes four 3/4-cup servings)

3 cups defatted chicken stock 1 egg white 2 tablespoons flour 2 teaspoons water 1 tablespoon Angostura low-sodium soy sauce 4 teaspoons finely chopped chives or scallion tops

Bring chicken stock to boil. With wire whisk, mix egg white, flour, and water until smooth.

Pour in thin stream into boiling chicken stock. Do not stir until egg mixture is cooked. Add soy sause and mix well. Ladle into consomme cups, and top each serving with 1 teaspoon chopped chives or scallion tops.

Broccoli Stir Fry

(Makes 8 cups)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds 1 cup cold chicken stock 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon peeled, chopped, fresh ginger root 2 tablespoons Angostura low-sodium soy sauce 2 tablespoons corn oil 1 clove (1 teaspoon) finely chopped garlic 10 cups (3 pounds broccoli stalks) broccoli florettes

Preheat oven to 350[degrees] F.

Place sesame seeds in preheated oven and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully, as they burn easily. Set aside.

Combine cold chicken stock and mix until cornstarch is dissolved. Add ginger and soy sauce. Mix well and set aside.

Heat corn oil in wok or large skillet. Add garlic and cook until it sizzles; do not brown. Add broccoli florettes and toss 1 minute. Pour chicken stock mixture over broccoli, cover, and cook 4 minutes, or until just tender. Add toasted sesame seeds and mix well.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Previous Article:What's in for breakfast?
Next Article:China's blockbuster diet study.

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