Interview2

Transcript of Interview 2:


S.J.: What effect does premature puberty have on physical growth to optimal stature?


T.C.C.: It’s associated with the attainment of one’s goal height at an earlier age. With early puberty, kids are growing faster. They reach adult height more or less early on, which is associated with increased risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer; there is no question about that. They become bigger earlier.


S.J.: But they don’t get taller than they might have gotten…


T.C.C.: That’s generally true, although milk consuming populations seem to be bigger people.


S.J.: A lot of people value that and want to have their children be bigger, taller.


T.C.C.: Right. Holland is a country that consumes the most dairy and has the highest rate of breast cancer of any country in the world. I gave a talk just on this to that group, and got blasted in the Amsterdam Times newspaper, by the way.


S.J.: Having a great number of advertisers from the dairy industry.


T.C.C.: Yes, Holland and the Netherlands export a lot of diary products; it’s very important to their export business.


S.J.: So what would you say to parents who want their children to grow taller?


T.C.C.: I think that they’re doing it at some potential cost for the future of their children’s health. But the other interesting thing is when you take children who are consuming a good vegan diet—lots of whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, exercise, sunshine and all that—those kinds of kids will grow to achieve the same height, they will just take longer to get there. The growth spurts amongst the vegan children may occur on into 18, 19, 20, and 21 years of age.


S.J.: I’m getting confused, were you saying earlier that children who eat milk products get taller on average?


T.C.C.: They get taller sooner.


S.J.: But they don’t get taller then they would have otherwise?


T.C.C.: That is generally true. What I also said though is that I am reminded of the fact that if you go to populations that consume a lot of dairy their overall stature seems to be a little bit higher. I don’t know, it’s possible that people consuming a very rich animal protein diet like with dairy, not only will they get taller sooner but they actually are really pushing the limit as to how tall they can be. Incidentally, height is associated with breast cancer. We know that overall stature is another risk factor.


S.J.: For the reasons we have been discussing.


T.C.C.: Yes, but to come back to that point, I just want to say that vegan children, who are always accustomed to consuming vegan food and growing that way, will attain the height that their genetics allow very nicely. We’re watching some experiments in progress right now with our grandchildren, who have not touched dairy or milk or anything like that from birth.

S.J.: Have formal studies been done on vegan children?


T.C.C.: Some, not that many.


S.J.: There are not very many in the percentage of the population anyway.


T.C.C.: Yeah, but there are also not that many studies and researchers haven’t followed them long enough. There is a group down in Summertown, Tennessee that have been followed for some time.


S.J.: So let me just define vegan—the diet doesn’t contain any eggs, milk products, meat, poultry, or fish, would you add anything to that definition?


T.C.C.: No, except vegan people, of course, they don’t wear any kind of leather, or animal based products on their body.


S.J.: How do you feel about that approach?


T.C.C.: Out of personal choice, and if there is anything that I value more than somebody listening to me, it’s their personal freedom to make their choices. And if people want to make choices to consume really bad food, it’s their choice. I am not the kind of person that wants to proselytize and push people very hard. I think my role in life, as another human being, since I am in the business of creating information, I guess, is just to do the best I can to present the information for people to make wise choices.


S.J.: People may feel that if they had to change everything in their lives, give up all animal products in all foods and also get rid of all animal products in their household and from their clothing they’d feel, “Well gee, I can’t do that so I am not going to do any of that. I’m just going to continue as I am.” How do you feel about that approach?

T.C.C.: Exactly. Personally, I mean I wouldn’t do that. We only have so many opportunities for doing things in our lives. We can’t overload ourselves with so much concern, so many decisions we have to make continuously. I don’t think that approach is very wise.


S.J.: It’s not necessary to consider extreme changes if one can do whatever one chooses to do to improve the diet, you don’t have to wear plastic shoes for example.


T.C.C.: Right, my point is if others want to that it’s fine.


S.J.: But you don’t want to put people off by saying ‘plastic shoes are mandatory’.


T.C.C.: Right, I wouldn’t do that.


S.J.: The immune system not only fights off invading organisms but can also destroy and reabsorb cancer cells. In what ways do animal based foods impact the immune system?


T.C.C.: Well, as we know the immune system is enormously complex and that is an understatement. There are so many parts to the immune system and when we start looking at the role of various nutrient intakes that are characterized by whether they’re present in animal or plant-based foods, we tend to see things from animal based foods that would compromise the immune system in various ways. Natural killer cells, to give an example from our own laboratory, are involved in basically scavenging supposed early cancer cells. Having good natural killer cell activity is important, but rats fed the higher casein levels had lower natural killer cell activity, and that is just one component. The literature, of course, has gone far, far beyond that. Many things have been worked on over the years in the last 10 years or so in this rapidly developing field. And as I look at the literature myself, there are a whole host of mechanisms by which protein can operate, not just on natural killer cell activity, but also on the formation of antibodies and things like that, that in turn can relate to autoimmune diseases as well as the typical allergic responses that we see. Along those lines, I just recently had the occasion to see how much consensus there was in the literature regarding cow’s milk and allergic responses, which is the immune phenomenon. I am finding that even among those who tend to be defenders of cow’s milk, people will admit that it’s the single most common food allergen we’re consuming. I think that is quite a striking statement.


S.J.: Well the intestines are designed, or have evolved to protect the body from pernicious influences, so how do allergens get into the blood stream?


T.C.C.: Well, they seem to at least when the intestine is not healthy or the intestine is still too immature. In the very early stages of the infant’s life, many tissues are just sort of completing the process of becoming mature, and some infants’ ability to block, let’s say, the absorption of these kinds of things is somewhat compromised for whatever reason. They have a so called leaky gut phenomenon, which can be a serious problem for some infants.


S.J.: Meaning that the contents of the gut leak into the body.


T.C.C.: Exactly. In other words, the contents of the gut seem to kind of just passively leak into body instead of going through the usual process of digestion and controlled absorption.


S.J.: And just imagine how much damage that can do when you consider what is in the gut.


T.C.C.: Exactly, so people with Crohn’s disease, I think, and other kinds of intestinal issues especially intestinal parasites for example can have their immune system seriously compromised. An important part of the immune system is actually in the gut.


S.J.: So what role do foods play in the etiology of Crohn’s disease? Colitis, enteritis?


T.C.C.: When I look at the literature for much of this stuff, there seems to be some serious disagreement as to how much of a role food really plays in the etiology of Crohn’s disease. Irritable bowel syndrome comes in that cluster of diseases, obviously, and colon cancer as well. There are some who believe it plays an important role, and so they will say for example that cow’s milk is a problem and a plant based diet is a good thing to do; high fiber intake is necessary. But then there are others, and this is more the traditional view, who believe that the high fiber diet is not good, people with Crohn’s should basically avoid it. So I see claims on both sides of the fence. I happen to have met a professor at the University of Cambridge in England by the name of Hunter who was one of the prominent researchers on this, and he was getting some good results by taking Crohn’s patients and putting them on a high fiber plant based diet, which is almost in the opposite direction from many of his colleagues. And that was at least 12-15 years ago when I met this man.


S.J.: You’re not talking about concentrated fibers like a bran cereal that might irritate—the sharp edges of the bran might irritate the intestines—that’s a problem, but you are talking about a lot of softer fibers, soft fibers and whole unrefined foods.


T.C.C.: That’s true. What you are also saying when you talk about irritants, is sort of like taking the fiber out and using it as supplement or to fortify food. God knows what kind of crystalline characteristics that fiber may have, so you end up with something that is unnatural at a very minimum. It’s not surprising to see that it may have some problems.


S.J.: Phytonutrients are found only in plant based foods. In what ways do phytonutrients impact the immune system?


T.C.C.: Well phytonutrients, the word phyto meaning plants of course, in large measure are antioxidant in nature. That is the first thought that occurs to me and of course having antioxidant properties, obviously, is very important. That is also very helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system. Now again, you might ask how exactly does that work? I am sure that there are multiple different ways, and I don’t know them all and I am sure that science hasn’t yet discovered all the ways.


S.J.: Not much money for research in that topic?


T.C.C.: No, but what we see so far is interesting. Antioxidants are largely found among phytonutrients. I mean I have to say the word phytonutrients is a useful term. It was invented only in the last couple of decades and it’s almost like an obvious word to invent, saying phytonutrients sounds fancy, but, in reality, it’s just the chemicals in plants that do things.


S.J.: There are thousands of them?


T.C.C.: Yes hundreds of thousands probably.


S.J.: How does the color of a vegetable indicate its content of phytonutrients?


T.C.C.: Well, colored vegetables, of course you know this from your chemistry, are going to have all these pigmented chemicals that, when you stick them in a spectrophotometer, you can see the color and you can read the UV spectrum and so forth. You find that the characteristics of these different color chemicals turn out to be very similar to the chemical characteristic that give them the ability to impede oxidation, so they act as antioxidants. Antioxidant activity and color tend to focus on much of the same chemical structure. Plants with color in them are good, and now you are actually hearing people say make sure you consume everyday foods of each of let’s say 4, 5, or 6 different colors—green, yellow, purple, red, blue.


S.J.: So colorful veggies can support immune function to improve health including the body’s response to cancer?


T.C.C.: Yes, definitely.


S.J.: Although the detailed research as to the mechanisms for that has not been studied extensively?


T.C.C.: Exactly.


S.J.: But how can you be so certain?


T.C.C.: Well, one of the reasons I have become so certain, I guess, reasonably certain, is that when you do see the results that are being published, there are bits of information that just fit within this larger framework. I don’t see the opposite. I don’t see phytonutrients, unless they’re really given in strange doses or some thing, coming along and actually having a negative effect on immune responses. Maybe the classic case where that did occur was with beta-carotene.


S.J.: As a supplement.


T.C.C.: Yeah, but it was given to people for 8 years in one case and multiple years in two other studies as a means of preventing lung cancer.


S.J.: So to get the benefit you have got to eat the whole veggie?


T.C.C.: Exactly.


S.J.: Not in one bite.


T.C.C.: Right


S.J.: What do you think of the studies showing that a component of milk called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA given as a drug may reduce risk of cancer?

T.C.C.: I don’t think much of that research at all. I know the history of that field quite well from my own personal experiences and it really arose because the dairy and meat industries were trying to find some way to counter this concern that was arising about consuming milk and meat. They came up with this compound CLA or conjugated linoleic acid that does occur in the rumen of cows being fed linoleic acid, commonly found in corn and corn oil. Cows fed lots of linoleic acid are going to form more conjugated linoleic acid and linoleic acid conversion to conjugated linoleic acid is occurring largely through the bacteria microflora in the lumen. So if you add more linoleic acid you get more conjugated linoleic acid that in turn gets into the blood and in come rather narrowly focused and rather specious kinds of experiments done on experimental animals.


S.J.: By specious you mean?


T.C.C.: By that I mean narrowly focused out of context.


S.J.: And for that reason specious?


T.C.C.: Yes, designed for other objectives. But it was found that you can design experiments a certain way to show that conjugated linoleic acid blocked, for example, the metabolism of chemical carcinogens that otherwise might cause cancer. You get the conjugated linoleic acid first and then you get the carcinogen and you can reduce the amount of the tumors that will form. And so, as a result it was called an anticarcinogen. Well that’s very exciting, my gosh! Give cows more corn oil and they make more conjugated linoleic acid; it gets into the milk and now milk can be anticancer. It was all funded by the dairy industry and Monsanto to start with, and it was reported on by people who were great defenders of the product.


S.J.: Well, it’s sold in supplement form.


T.C.C.: I heard that.


S.J.: I saw it on the web.


T.C.C.: You did?


S.J.: Who knows what that means, but that is where I got that info.


T.C.C.: Well I heard that it was going down that path. I think that is really dangerous. I was a severe critic of that work in the beginning because I happened to know a committee where that first was discussed, a committee supported by the dairy and meat industries, and one of their other main activities was to try to name people in the field who might be a threat to them. They named 7 or 9 researchers around the United States who potentially could be a threat and I had the dubious distinction of being named twice. And so then they assigned to these 7 members as individuals people who took the responsibility of watching these dangerous researchers. I knew they were watching over me and the China Project because that was considered to be a dangerous project. And that was even before the China Project was even talked about in the media.


S.J.: What was meant by dangerous in this context?


T.C.C.: That I was likely to get results which were going to be threatening to their products.


S.J.: The sales of their products.


T.C.C.: Yeah, and so the China Project was one thing.


S.J.: It’s like having a black list.


T.C.C.: It was. It was a black list. And I was on the black list and I was listed twice. And the person who was going to look after the China Project is the one who also started the CLA work.


S.J.: So they regarded your studies as legitimate and objectively set up and possibly or maybe even likely to bring up results that might be harmful to their sales.


T.C.C.: Exactly.


S.J.: Which maybe you have.


T.C.C.: Which I have. They were right. But they wanted to learn as much as they could about this impending China Project at the time, which was in the mid-80s, so that by the time it came out they would have a news release for results of this kind ready to go, hot off the burner. It would be released at the time and raise serious questions either about the investigation or about the funding or about something else. They would have some time to think about it and how to do this. And it was all done secretly and I know the name of the individual who did this I know him personally. He started the CLA work and I attended 3 of his presentations when he first started reporting on that. He didn’t know what I knew about him. And I simply asked questions and pointed out how ridiculous his work was from the floor when Q&A time came. I could never get him to answer my questions, but I know I kind of put him on the spot.

And in the other case, it had to do with my help to organize and play a major role actually in getting the American Institute for Cancer Research going. In that case, the guy was a guy I knew well, who was on the panel that I chaired for giving out funds.


S.J.: What is it like trying to conduct scientific research with these kinds of political clouds whirling around your head?


T.C.C.: It’s bad. It’s no fun.


S.J.: Has it been a distraction for you?


T.C.C.: Yes it has, it has been a distraction. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t spent as much time as I did on that sort of nonsense.


S.J.: You were on committees yourself.


T.C.C.: Yeah, I was on committees, but at the same time when people do things like send a letter around to 36 people in Washington—leading officials like the Commissioner of the FDA, and Senator Kennedy, and the head of NIH, and all together 36 people—making the claim in there that I had pocketed $20,000 of my NIH grant money for myself.


S.J.: How did you clear your name?


T.C.C.: In that case, I didn’t bother that much, I was working at the American Institute for Cancer Research and so they were coming under serious attack because I was associated with them. And the Justice Department in some cases, the Attorney General’s Offices, the Post Office Department in different states, were bringing them under—really challenging them for things—and Ann Landers sat on the Board of the American Cancer Society at the time. She got involved every year in March when the cancer month came along and she would make some statement about the American Institute for Cancer Research being a scurrilous organization just because it was focused on diet. I wrote to her and just basically told her lay off, she didn’t know what she was talking about.

And in some cases in Britain, the same thing occurred there. When aid organizations were getting going in London, I had helped them a lot, and they had the equivalent of 60 Minutes there, and that was really going to do a number on the organization and destroy them once and for all. So I was called over, when the television crew interviewed the president, and I know her very well, and they were going to come in and attack her on a lot of frivolous stuff. And so I was there, sitting at her side, so when they asked her a question they didn’t want me to sit there. But she insisted that I had to be there. And so they were being a little bit more cautious because she’s not a scientist, but every time they questioned her with something about science she turned to me because I had good answer, to say your question is ridiculous, or something like that. It really worked and I know in cases in this country, I had gotten involved like that maybe writing a letter or calling up, picking up the phone and calling somebody and saying ‘you don’t know what you are talking about, I’m in science and will tell you that you are absolutely wrong and if you continue, if you persist there are going to be problems.’ I did some of that kind of stuff, on behalf of the organization, but for myself, personally, it was a distraction yes, it was a pretty serious distraction at times. I guess I did all kinds of things but for the most part I tried to ignore it.


S.J.: Regarding the financial accusations did you supply the income and loss?


T.C.C.: I didn’t go that far in one case, there was an investigation of me in Washington organized by a couple of individuals in our professional society.


S.J.: Of nutritionists?


T.C.C.: Yeah, American Institute of Nutrition, that is the key professional society, and I was very active in that society, in fact, I had just been nominated by the committee to be the president. Then this disgruntled group was angry and they made a petition to the board of directors to have me investigated. Sitting on the board of directors was the head of nutrition for the FDA, Dr. Alan Forbes, and so I had to go to Washington and in the basement of Dr. Forbes and go through this grilling nonsense and I just basically told him, “all those charges are ridiculous, and if you persist and go further on this I am just going to tell reporters what you are doing.”


S.J.: What he was doing? What do you mean by that?


T.C.C.: Well he was not the one sitting as a judge, so to speak. But the ones who were making the accusation, they wanted to have me thrown out of the society, make a big deal out of it. And in fact the petition did go before the board and there were 8 members on that board, two of the members of the board were from Cornell, obviously knew me very well, and they recused themselves from the deliberations. But they knew me long enough to know that I was not doing that nonsense. And I am sure privately they must have said something. They didn’t vote. But the vote on that board at that time was 6 to nothing in my favor. And of course the ones who were bringing the accusation left, disgruntled.


S.J.: And they didn’t ask you for your cash inflow/ out flow statements?


T.C.C.: They didn’t because they knew that this was a false charge.


S.J.: They didn’t even bother asking for it?


T.C.C.: No. I had a pretty good reputation for my integrity, and they just respected that and basically said [to the others] go away. Get lost.


S.J.: They backed off.

T.C.C.: I had a lot of these kinds of experiences and it did cause me problems at times. I don’t know how you fight these things because that one time, there were four of us who had been attacked and there was going to be a class action suit against us, who were sort of touting this line. There was myself, there was a woman who was the Executive Director of the Food and Nutrition Board—her husband was the US Ambassador to Hungary at the time, very prominent fellow himself—and then there was a woman who was a professor at Columbia University Teachers College, Joan Gussow—she had published, been an author of a couple books—and the fourth one was the Director of the Diet and Cancer Program at the National Cancer Institute, Peter Greenwald.

And the four of us had been on record raising questions about the way we eat. I was I guess the most active of the bunch, and they really went after us and started saying public things. And so four of us got together—largely as a result of this woman’s husband who was ambassador, Martin Palmer, and he had some money in his background, he helped us out—so we all had dinner together at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington to discuss this. We were thinking about counter-suing and just making a big issue out of it so the public could get to know what these clowns were up to. We talked about it, and I was ready to go forward, but two of them, the head of the National Cancer Institute Diet and Cancer Program, Peter Greenwald, and also the woman, this guys wife who was at the National Academy of Science at the time, those two had very important public positions and if they joined me and the woman from Columbia in bringing this collective suit, they probably would have to step aside their government positions at that time until the case was resolved. And we thought it over and they decided they didn’t want to do that, so we didn’t go through with it, but we came close.

I kept a file, and it kept growing and growing, I called it the garbage file, really two big files, overstuffed manila folders, they got pretty thick, keeping letters and all kinds of stuff, and I said someday I am going to write a book, I am going to say something about this stuff.


S.J.: And so you have, with the China Study book.


T.C.C.: I have but I’ve told only just a small part of some of the things I know. I don’t know, I am now unfortunately pretty cynical about what I have seen. So I keep asking myself. Sometimes I think I don’t want to do anymore, I don’t want to write anymore stuff, I don’t want to do anything.


S.J.: You mean about the way the government…


T.C.C.: The way the industry has infected the government process of organizing policy, something I have been very deeply involved in. Or the way that the industry works behind the scenes in influencing academic research institutions and Cornell cannot be excused. Cornell has had a very serious conflict. And in the meanwhile the public gets ripped off and most of the research that is done in this country is probably taxpayer money and the way in which it works… The research money that is actually given out by the National Institute of Health, for example, is public money. The process by which people are chosen—you know, put in an application, get the money—that I know very well because I have been a reviewer of that too on some of these panels. The process is quite good, it’s done as best as they can to try to get a good through review of these applications and give the money to the people most deserving. And the people actually doing these reviews are also honorable people. So you say well what’s wrong, well what’s wrong are the decisions at a higher level. To say NIH is going to focus on drugs, on drug development, they’re not going to put money into nutrition. So there are no grants to review because there is no money there.


S.J.: NIH has no facility dedicated to nutrition, no department; it’s spread among all the departments of NIH. So there is no focus, it’s like a shot gun blast approach rather than a targeted, much more effective approach, there is no synergy between the different studies on nutrition. And those studies only represent some 2 or 3 percent, some small percentage of NIH budget.


T.C.C.: Exactly. So we don’t get research focus, the policy is disoriented, and disrupted, and distorted. And there is another somewhat different kind of scenario where the chairs of these committees these days are consultants for the industry. They get away with it and hide it. Recently, I was part of a process where by the PCRM in Washington actually sued the Dietary Guidelines Committee just to get access to the conflict of interest statements that are supposed to be readily available to the public, had to go to court to get this information. And I thought that probably would fail because I was so cynical at the time, but it turned out the judge was a reasonable fellow, and eight months later he ordered those records to be released. But I know in one case, one of those records was incomplete. But who is going to follow that up, these kind of things go on and the public doesn’t have a clue. If I tell this story to an audience, which I do from time to time, a lot of people say “well, we know it’s all a mess.” But I think it’s a really serious problem. What do you do about it? What would you do about this, I am just curious, in a case like this?


S.J.: Well for example, regarding the school lunch program, I would reassign it.


T.C.C.: Yes. That is one recommendation that hasn’t been made. Exactly.


S.J.: With the health and nutrition guidelines, they’re currently issued by the United States Department of Agriculture, perhaps the responsibility for the guidelines should be transferred to the National Institutes of Health.


T.C.C.: Of course, but keep in mind that has been recommended from time to time.


S.J.: It would be better than the USDA.


T.C.C.: Presumably, but the National Institutes of Health is drug oriented. Their mandate is to create more drugs. So I am not sure it’s much of a gain.


S.J.: So from frying pan to the fire and vice versa.


T.C.C.: The USDA is protecting the livestock and beef industry, NIH is one to promote drugs, one of them is trying to make you sick the other is trying to make us well through drugs. I think what needs to be done is something like a trust fund that LBJ, Lyndon Johnson, actually one time suggested. Have a trust fund, the money comes in there, you get a big trust and it survives independently and the public then gets access to information, people can expect a little more reasonableness.


S.J.: What is your opinion of the nutrition guidelines, as they’re presently issued by the USDA?


T.C.C.: Well, in the most recent addition they just added more confusion; it has always been an instrument to create confusion in my view. If you look at the previous editions of the food dietary guidelines, they focus on the numbers of servings of this, that, and everything else. They also will tell you what’s the serving size, and I would dare say that not one percent of the people in this country know the numbers of servings they should have for anything really and they certainly don’t know the serving size and furthermore even if they did, they don’t adhere to it. But that created a great sense of, in my view, confusion. People would counter that argument by saying, ‘well schools and other large institutions, they need to know numbers of serving and sizes, it helps them put together their big plans’. But that doesn’t cut the ice with me; I think people have been confused. In the most recent addition, they added one new layer of confusion, and I think a lot of it’s intentional. Now, instead of having one pyramid for everybody, now you can go on the web and everybody can have their own pyramid. You can plug in your weight, and your size, and your age, and your gender, and you can create your own pyramid. So now it’s open game.


S.J.: What principles are followed by the National School Lunch Program, that feeds about 40 million of our children?


T.C.C.: I actually think now about 50 some million have access to it but actually only 20, about half, 27-28 million actually use it. In any case, what is my view of the School Lunch Program? It’s a disaster; it’s just an unmitigated disaster. It’s nothing more than a program to dispose of the subsidized food products, like milk and meat. Farmers are being subsidized by the government to produce things often in excess and so this material then, they have to do something with it.


S.J.: When you say farmers, you’re mainly talking about agribusiness, huge companies not small family farms so much?


T.C.C.: Exactly, I still have great admiration for the small family farmer. There is a great culture but unfortunately they have little to do with food production these days, it’s the big agribusiness moguls.


S.J.: So perhaps the School Lunch Program, should get reassigned from the USDA to either the Department of Human Services or Department of Education?


T.C.C.: Yeah it might be better in the Department of Education. I am really serious about this idea. It comes back to a purely fundamental question in my view—I tend to assume that health should be a right not a privilege. I have thought this ever since I was a kid, even before I got in science. I think it should be a right not a privilege. And by that I mean everybody should be provided the information, the best information possible, where by they can make their own choices. Now having said that you say ‘well, how does that work?’ That is why I am serious about this idea of having a trust fund. And Lyndon Johnson touched on that after he left office in a speech that he gave, not a well known speech, but I read it—a speech that he gave to pharmaceutical company executives. And it was really interesting because he came with some charts and he pointed out in there how the 500 largest pharmaceutical companies in the country, if they didn’t pay taxes for 3 years and they took that money and put it in a trust fund, in three years time we could have a trust fund large enough that it would sustain research and education information at a level of about 5.7 or 6 % of the GNP forever. And then in that case the organizers of this, the people who run this would not be the industry, they would be people like Greenspan at the Federal Reserve or the TBA Authority, you put people in for long appointments. They make sure the information is properly organized and research is possibly funded the right way. I just thought that that was a brilliant speech that Johnson made, but he also pointed out to these executives at that time, he said ‘I know I am looking at you, you will never allow this to happen, because you control NIH’ and he said ‘you know it and I know it.’ You know how LBJ talked, that is what he said. And so many of these questions that we now think are so serious, they’re all interconnected. And I think we need some fundamental structural changes in the way in which information is created, the way in which we develop policy, the way in which research is funded. Because right now the whole system is structured to service the corporate sector, and they know it, everybody knows it.


S.J.: Can a vegan diet not only act as a preventative but also help the body shrink a tumor or beat back metastatic cancer without chemo or radio therapy?

T.C.C.: I think so. And I am going to say I think so. It’s based on some fragmentary evidence so far produced, whether it’s experimental animals or in the case of some human data it’s very clear it looks like that is so. I think it really would.


S.J.: Should a person heed the advice of a doctor who insists on chemo and radio therapy?


T.C.C.: I don’t want to go on record to say that they should not heed advice, because if I did I could actually be tried, found guilty of practicing medicine against the best interest of the medical community, because people like me have been arrested for this. But I have to say that everybody has to make their own decision and if their decision is to go to the doctor and get advice from the doctor and the doctor says ‘you should do this’, well it’s up to that person to decide whether or not to listen. I simply say that we have some scientific evidence that indicates that there are alternative methods for doing the same thing. And there are a number of people who actually are doing that now and getting good results. So I don’t say more than that, because I don’t want to go out and advocate that people not listen to their doctors. I don’t think that is my position to really do that, but I would urge individuals to get as much information as they could, get second opinions. I get calls all the time, from people who have some serious problem. Right now one person unfortunately, a former student, has glaucoma. It’s very serious, he doesn’t have money, he wants to try this method. Somebody else has got some other condition; I don’t know why they keep calling me but people probably figure I’ve got some contacts in something like this. I just always say, ‘I’m not a doctor. Just go get a second opinion.’ That is always my basic advice, get a second opinion.


S.J.: Could plant based foods help the body deal with any harmful effects of chemo and radio therapy, with some of the harmful effects?


T.C.C.: Well that is a good question and I am not sure that it would. I am speaking about chemotherapy agents, they’re cytotoxic and quite active. And they become cytotoxic because of being metabolized by the drug metabolism enzyme system.

S.J.: Cytotoxic means?


T.C.C.: Kills cells.


S.J.: Poisonous to cells.


T.C.C.: Yeah and the metabolites are usually quite reactive, electrophilic in nature, perhaps and they bind to important molecules and kill the cell. And so these cytotoxic agents—which are known, incidentally, to have some carcinogenic properties themselves, because people after taking those drugs, then later if they survive they’re at higher risk for getting certain cancers often times in a similar site. And the theoretical interest in using cytotoxic drugs is let it go in there let it attack the tumor tissue itself if possible, all by itself, and let’s eliminate all the side effects. And so they want cytotoxic drugs to be targeted, and there have been lots of efforts made to deliver those drugs to that site. There are some pretty interesting ideas, we’ve got molecules that can deliver vectors, if you will, to deliver to the site, so it sounds pretty good. And so they don’t want any of those cytotoxic agents to spill over and cause all the side effects like cancer patients might get. Now one way you can stop that in theory is make sure all the excess cytotoxic agent gets metabolized and disposed of. It turns out that the enzyme system responsible for doing that is the same enzyme system that activates them to attack the cancer cell. And that enzyme system, the so-called drug metabolism enzyme system, that’s where I spent 25 years working fairly intensively, in the early part of my career. That enzyme system is greatly influenced by nutrient intake. And so high protein intake in that case will help to dispose of these cytotoxic agents and thereby in theory reduce the side effects that otherwise would occur.


S.J.: Higher protein intake.


T.C.C.: Higher protein intake is beneficial in that case.


S.J.: Well does it matter what kind of protein?


T.C.C.: Well at that time it was casein that we were using. In that case, the higher casein intake would actually help in theory, for people taking cytotoxic drugs. But that is a real paradox because on the one hand it helps to dispose of the excess drug that you don’t want around, but on the other hand it tends to also reduce the activation of that drug when it’s administered. So therefore you are delivering a less effective dose to the tumor tissue so on balance what do you get? It’s a real paradox.


S.J.: You’re not talking about something that is going to help deal with the cancer itself but only talking about something that is going to ameliorate the effects of the cytotoxic drugs.


T.C.C.: Exactly. Exactly. In the literature, drug companies were very interested in my work in those days and had me write up a big review, it was published in 1975 and invited me to some different things, with that view in mind. But they wanted to take that idea and develop it into a big market opportunity.


S.J.: In fact as you’ve said, the casein would cause cells to reproduce more rapidly, cancer cells.


T.C.C.: Yes, of course.


S.J.: While mitigating the effects of a drug, casein may increase the proliferation of cancer.


T.C.C.: Right, it’s one of the paradoxes that sometimes you run into when you are thinking in a very reductionist way like that. And so it was one of the things that kind of stimulated me to think, how can we be playing around with nature and always have to worry about these tradeoffs? I don’t think nature is made for tradeoffs, there has to be another natural order of things that would be a better way to do it. I think it has some rational basis.


S.J.: Could people challenged by cancer take a complimentary approach and use either chemo or radio therapy and change their diets to emphasis more plant based foods, with the plant based foods helping to stimulate the immune system and in other ways acting in a parallel fashion to help the body deal with the cancer?


T.C.C.: Yeah. It sounds sort of a reasonable approach and maybe some research can be done to test to see if in fact that way would work. But the idea is that you give the drug, this very cytotoxic drug, you give the drug and let it do its job, do what it can do, then right away come right behind it with the kind of diet that gets rid of all the excess and hope you are accomplishing something. But the problem with that is I can see a down side to it. The cytotoxic drug goes in, hits the cancer cells, and if you don’t get rid of all of it, one of the things it does do, and this is well known, those cytotoxic drugs, chemotherapy agents, they really play havoc with the immune system. And so cancer patients, their immune system goes to pot in a hurry, with those kind of drugs. So now you let the drug come in, kill some cancer cells, then it messes up the immune system, then you come back and feed a plant-based diet to try to restore the immune system right, if you can. It’s really tricky.


S.J.: What would you do if you were challenged by cancer?


T.C.C.: I would go do a water-only fast. No hesitation. I would do a water-only fast. My life style and diet’s about as good as we can get it, I think, it obviously can’t be prefect and maybe I have got some residual cancers growing in me that I picked up years ago and maybe I slowed them down a whole lot and eventually they’ll get me some day. So I also have learned quite a lot of information about these water-only fasts, they’re pretty remarkable.


S.J.: Have you ever done any fasting?


T.C.C.: Yeah I have. I think you probably know I isolated that compound that later became known as dioxin. And I had some serious problems with that years later.


S.J.: Yourself?


T.C.C.: Yeah I’m one of the discoverers of that.


S.J.: I mean you’ve had problems with it personally?


T.C.C.: Yeah I did. When I was isolating it at MIT, I ended up with polyps in my sinuses that had to be burned out and had bleeding migraines, and then subsequent to that—I didn’t have a name for that compound at the time, I published my work, it was a couple years later when they discovered dioxin.


S.J.: Because of your work in the lab with dioxin you got dosed very, very heavily.


T.C.C.: Very heavy doses.


S.J.: Here we’re talking about a substance that the body doesn’t know how to handle.


T.C.C.: Exactly. And so I ended up after that experience, there was one other guy working on it at the time, FDA in Washington and he died. He had filed a complaint with the labor department that he thought he was being poisoned, and he wasn’t being appropriately protected, but he died before action was taken. But in any case, I got heavily dosed, I ended up with some problems, that later evolved into some conditions with my face and my sinuses called chloracne. And that subsequently then was shown in fact dioxin causes, that is one of the thing that people get working with this stuff. And I had a pretty serious case of that. That went on for 8 or 10 years, I tried to deal with it. Finally it gradually went away, when I gradually improved my diet, coincidentally I think.


S.J.: Coincidentally?


T.C.C.: I was improving my diet during the ‘80s let’s say.


S.J.: Or causatively? Your diet helped clear up the problem.


T.C.C.: The diet was helping to clear up the problem, I’m convinced but not entirely, at least clearing up the problems with this chloracne, these lesions and so forth. So they eventually went away but then after they went away I could still feel this kind of tingling sensation in my face that kind of lingered from time to time. And eventually in the early 90s, just about the time the China Project information was being released, all of that crept into my neck and started affecting the muscles in my neck and my speech and my eating. I had a very hard time to speak then I had a lot of pain I had to hold my mouth, couldn’t eat very well. Went to some doctors, went to the best I could find—Cornell Med School, Columbia Presbyterian, Sloane Memorial, all of the best. They gave me the worst prognosis, they said I probably would not be speaking in another year, they showed me how to use a pen knife to stick in my trachea so I wouldn’t choke to death, all these kinds of things.

So I then had a chance to speak about the China Project to a convention in New York City, I told them I couldn’t do it. So they said ‘well, what’s wrong with you?’ And I told this guy who had been from Cornell, I told him I got a really serious problem, I can’t really talk. He said ‘Well, why don’t you come down here. There are a lot of people in this audience, it’s the National Hygiene Society, lot of chiropractors and naturopaths and some MDs. They had more understanding of your condition’. I thought, well what the hell I can’t lose. So I went down and struggled through it, and they got together 10 of them and sent me off to this fasting place in California at their expense, it was very kind. They sent me there and meanwhile I had tested myself for dioxin and I still had very high levels in my body, 25 years after I had been away from it. So I did the fasting thing in the hope that my body would get rid of it. But when I went there I was very skeptical, but came to learn some things that I will never forget. I learned that water-only fasting is a remarkable medical procedure that is simply not understood by 99% of doctors, I think.


S.J.: Seems like people who want to try fasting need to do it with the supervision of a health professional and not just at home on their own.


T.C.C.: Precisely.


S.J.: There are a lot of ways to trip up with it, including loss of electrolytes.


T.C.C.: Absolutely. You are absolutely right. And now this clinic has done about 5,000 patients this way. And I saw things like uterine fibromas shrink and all kinds of conditions resolve themselves, hypertension almost uniformly reverse itself, and when people get that behind them then they go on to a plant-based diet.

So now coming back to your question what would I do? I think fasting when you allow the body to go to rest and let nature take its course.

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