Transcript of Interview 7:

S.J.: Should local breast cancer alliances and prostate cancer institutions be discussing the possibility of providing information to Americans everywhere on how a plant based diet of whole unrefined foods may help the body become more effective against cancer?

T.C.C.: Definitely. I think these organizations are grassroots in nature and are really reaching a lot of people, and I think they have a responsibility to share with the people as much as they can regarding this information. It has been my experience that when I have spoken to these groups, not many, but when I have spoken to them, I find that they’re very much in the medical mind set and drug companies like them, drug companies often times will help these groups. I have spoken a couple of times at them where drug reps have been available, showing their wares, for drug companies it’s a means of advertising their wares, and I just take offense to that. I think the groups are very good in terms of patients sharing their feelings and comforting themselves. That is obviously a very important activity, but they’re a vulnerable group. They’re extremely vulnerable, and so, I just find drug companies taking advantage of that, and I would rather that they also spend some time trying to learn some of the information that they tend not to hear.

S.J.: It may be that such groups avoid talk of means of prevention and supporting healing since many victims blame themselves. As difficult as it is to look forward rather than back under such a grievous challenge, the people could think of themselves not as victims but as proactive self healers retaking control of their lives from disease by improving diet to support healing.

T.C.C.: I think you have just said it very well, Sylvester. That is excellent. I couldn’t say it really any better. I think that we often hear about, or at least I get criticized some times for being a little bit too candid in some of my views because they say, my critics say, it blames the victim, and I don’t mean to blame the victim. That is not my point and I know it’s a sensitive matter for those who already have the disease, but I also think that it’s probably more refreshing too for everyone to be a little bit more honest, where they have been and where they hope to go because only by knowing where they are, perhaps what they have done, can they more forward in a really honest way. Every time I think of that sort of different kind of philosophy, I think of my mother, for example, who obviously was a farm wife and we ate the food that she knew best at the time. Well, that was the kind of food that we now know is not exactly the best. So, when I started talking to her about this a few years ago, at first, she felt a little bit guilty, I think, and I felt like maybe I shouldn’t be telling her about all these things, but eventually, she came around and with just a healthy attitude to be honest. We all operate in our own best interests with the best information that we have at the time and so, I think the idea of feeling like victim is not really quite fair. People shouldn’t feel to be the victim.

S.J.: Some tumors may already be causing pain or blockages at the time of diagnosis, and so require prompt action from a conventional medical standpoint. Could plant based diet or dietary means be used to complement such interventions?

T.C.C.: I think so. I mean we do have evidence now, not enough, but we do have evidence that a plant based diet, that the kind of plant based diet that tends to prevent disease from progression on is the same kind of diet that seems to be able to reverse disease at later stages. I mean this is most dramatic in the case of heart disease and diabetes, of course, but we also have some evidence in the case of cancer too. The development of disease is a really kind of interesting phenomenon, and I don’t think is fully understood. I mean, development of these serious diseases like cancer and heart disease and some of these so called chronic degenerative diseases is a long process that goes on for many, many years, and it goes on slowly perhaps most of the time and we know that there are foods that will tend to progress it forward. There are the foods that will tend to inhibit it perhaps even reverse it, and I think this is true all the way along the line even after it’s diagnosed, even after the submission that really is staring to occur. Now, it’s true that if we expect to see reversal at that point after diagnosis, I suspect that we’re going to have to be a little more aggressive in what is going to be done at that time and be really strict about diet, for example and even maybe use some other lifestyle procedures to get things turned around. I am thinking of something that is really off the mark as far as traditional medicine is concerned and that is the water-only fast. I have seen that personally work on people with cancer, and cancer-like conditions. It’s very quite remarkable. When we give the body a chance to rest, so to speak, either rest from the act of digestion and absorption and then return to a really good plant based diet, really remarkable things happen. Not just with cancer but with all kinds of diseases. So, I think it’s important to at least consider the possibility of using diet and lifestyle in an aggressive way for those people who already have been diagnosed; the same kind diet that what would be used to keep them from getting there in the first place.

S.J.: So enough evidence has been gathered that the doctors should be discussing a diet and lifestyle based approach complimentary to or possibly even before conventional treatments?

T.C.C.: Yes, we have enough evidence. Incidentally, I have thought a lot about this and the fact that just during the last couple of weeks, two or three weeks, I have visited with some clinics where there is a consensus amongst those of us who know the information the way we do. There is a consensus amongst us that the only way that we believe that this information is really going to take a foot hold in our society is if it fits within the economic system. Namely, I am talking about the fact that physicians who are the primary care givers under the present system and perhaps should be, of course, under the future system, they have got to be able to be paid adequately, and just simply telling people to eat their vegetables and fruit’s not exactly going to do it. That is very clear and so procedures have to be developed where physicians can make a reasonable and even a substantial income by doing this, and there is, in fact, now emerging such procedures, such models. I am thinking particularly of Dr. John McDougall of the west coast who is a very clever guy. He has been in the business for a long time and he has come up with a model now that he’s using and it can earn for him plenty of money, a lot of money and still at the same time practice what he knows best to do. Patients get well. The physician makes money. Patients go off of drugs, quite frankly, in many cases. In other words, the practice of medicine has to fit within the economic system to really make it work. Now, I think we’re entering some ways by which that can be done.

S.J.: In the past, such ideas were rejected out of hand because the feeling was that the majority of Americans, the vast majority, would not change their diets regardless of the health benefits to be accomplished.

T.C.C.: Well, that goes to the question concerning who is giving the information to these people who refuse to make changes. If the doctor doesn’t really believe in this, he’s the last person to try to convince patients to try it. It only turns out to be a self serving prophecy. The doctor will say to the patient, oh, you ought to do this, you, ought to do that, but if the doctor himself or herself are not doing it themselves, they’re not going to be a particularly good advocate for that kind of change. So that is a very simple notion. These are not the people to talk to patients about this. I mean, the doctors have got to: a) know the information, b) be convinced that it’s of value, and c) have got to be able to make some money when they’re doing it. That is the practical substance of what needs to happen.

S.J.: The most successful doctors in building substantial practices may be those who do incorporate dietary and lifestyle improvements.

T.C.C.: Yes, I am actually getting to know such people like that who are really doing well. I met a very bright young doctor, reasonably young doctor, in Kansas who started to practice so called lifestyle medicine where he basically approaches his patients when he first gets his patients, and he was good internist with a good reputation. He basically informed them when they came to visit with them that he wanted to send them out of the office without a prescription. He wanted them to try the diet lifestyle thing, and he was convinced himself, that was 9/10 of the battle. So, he was very persistent. He told them what they had to do and it turned out about half of them really did listen and another quarter at least tried. There was the quarter who didn’t care and didn’t want to do it that way. But in any case a half is a lot and maybe three fourths, and he had so much success with this approach so far and has actually seen recovery from these sometimes very serious illness that all of a sudden doctors elsewhere in the hospital in that town were referring their patients to him, and then he couldn’t take care of all those patients, and more recently he has taken on three more physicians in his practice. Now, there are four physicians doing the same thing and they’re just absolutely overwhelmed with patient referrals. It works, and now he has written a book about this. His name is Dr. Neal Nedley. I think it’s fair enough to give out his name, and I think that model can be a model for the future but in that particular case, it was clear that Dr. Nedley believed in what he was doing and then in turn demonstrated for the patient’s what they could achieve if they just listened to him. It’s going to have to be the wave of the future. We’re going to have to think in these possibilities.

S.J.: Since his approaches can help ameliorate or reverse a vast range of disorders, it’s amazing that the insurance companies and HMOs haven’t picked up more on it.

T.C.C.: It’s amazing. It’s frustrating, quite frankly, knowing that that doesn’t work that way. And from my limited experience in that category of experience, I am learning that big insurance companies are sort of locked in place with what they do. It’s an enormously large industry doing things the way they have always done things and you are also invested in the system to maintain the status quo because they’re making a lot of money and have a ‘if it doesn’t need fixing why fix’ kind of attitude and furthermore to really get in there and start insisting that things should be changed is not the easiest thing to do. I know that from some technologies that have been presented to them by which they can actually reduce cost and they’re reluctant to do so because they figure that the cost of change is too much. But on the other hand, Dr. Dean Ornish has been successful in getting quite a number of insurance companies to buy into his procedure and to pay for that procedure.

S.J.: Lower fat.

T.C.C.: Yes, if they will try that as a means of disease management, maybe reversal. Insurance companies are in fact paying for that kind of service to some extent and this seems to be growing, the idea seems to be growing. So it’s possible, and I think insurance companies can certainly take a lead in this area. They’re the ones standing to gain financially in the long run.

S.J.: A very small study could show substantial reductions in pain and outflows if health challenges improved and be applicable very broadly for much greater savings and a significant reduction in human misery. It would be so doable for those companies to conduct such a small study.

T.C.C.: Right.

S.J.: And it wouldn’t have to last so long as a complete clinical trial of a drug for example. Just long enough to demonstrate cash savings.

T.C.C.: Well, I know of two examples: One Dr. McDougall conducted with the Blue Cross Blue Shield company in one of the big Midwestern states where over a six month period using this procedure, he was able to show us a 19% savings in medical care costs. That is a lot: a 19% savings with a reasonably modest approach. In other words, it was highly significant. Then another study done in North Carolina with some of my own colleagues where they were in a 30 day period got a 14% medical care savings by doing something like this, and something really quite modest especially the second one. If it were done using some of the more interesting and perhaps more aggressive procedures with lifestyle change, the savings could even be greater especially over longer periods of time. It could be huge. I think of companies like General Motors which has a six billion dollar health care cost, bill, or Southwestern Bell for example which has about three billion dollar. I am familiar with the second one especially. They have about a three billion dollar medical care cost. The company cannot afford to keep going along this tract because these costs are escalating faster than anything else going on in their business and so they’re reaching a crisis stage, they need to do something. Some of these companies are now beginning to understand this.

S.J.: In fact, it makes the U.S. less competitive because other countries do not have the kind of a health care system that we do that tends to be a bottomless pit for money for many reasons and therefore, the costs to overseas companies for health care are substantially lower than U.S. companies. So if U.S. companies took the approach that you have been talking about, a dietary lifestyle approach to really promote health improvements among employees, that could help them become more competitive.

T.C.C.: Oh, absolutely. I mean it’s clearer now that companies when they’re experiencing these escalating costs in medical care have to do something, and I know of one case with a big company where they had to impose all of a sudden a $2,000 up front payment on the part of each employee at the beginning of the year. The employee had to take on the first $2000 in medical care costs. It caused an enormous uproar between the employees and the company, and so, some of these companies, when they’re experiencing these kinds of costs, and of course, they’re interested in protecting their bottom line obviously, so what are they going to do? In some cases they may cut the number of jobs and then they lay off people in order to accommodate this, or they send jobs overseas where often times they don’t pay any medical care costs at all, and so all of a sudden, our country suddenly begins to suffer, and of course, the people working in these companies in these communities where this occurs they know the price and much of this is due to the fact that medical care costs are going through the roof of these companies, and even in the public sector with municipal budgets, public school budgets things like that. Public schools are particularly vulnerable because they’re having to pay the medical care costs of all their existing staff as well as retired staff, as other companies do too, and those costs are escalating rapidly. When schools have to take on that burden and don’t get compensation from the state or the federal government to cover those increasing costs, they have to cut programs. Either that or they have to raise local taxes, and this is going on all over the country. School budgets seem to be escalating very rapidly, largely because of medical care costs and so their only choice is to raise taxes and that doesn’t set well with the public, so it’s a very serious problem. I think if anything is going to cause change as far as these ideas are concerned, it may come because of these economic considerations, the financial constraints that are placed on agencies, institutions and companies simply because they can’t afford these costs. So what you suggested before, finding ways linking this health information for employees is important to think about. Companies can organize these demo projects to enroll their employees in these programs so that the individuals can see for themselves what kind of benefit they can get, that would be a great thing. At the same time, the company begins to learn how much savings and money they can make by seeing how well people can get and not consume all those dollars, and so, I think that linkage between a concern for the economic health of the company and the personal health of the individual is an important linkage that needs to be considered.

S.J.: Again, the study doesn’t have to be as long as a clinical trial for pharmaceuticals, it can be very short just long enough to demonstrate cash savings.

T.C.C.: That is right. We’re just talking maybe a matter of a month or two or three and we have already known from other kinds of studies that that kind of savings really is a reasonable thing to expect. There are so many examples of these kinds of improvements in health that can be accomplished for all manners of diseases in a fairly short period of time through the use of diet and at the same time that this improvement is going on and they’re making their dietary change, they’re dropping their meds. In other words, they’re giving up their drugs in surprising amounts, and it happens fairly quickly. So, all of a sudden it translates into a cause. People paying a few thousand dollars a year for their drugs and more and then learning, in fact, that they don’t have to take these drugs anymore. This is for things like hypertension, diabetes.

S.J.: They don’t have to suffer the side effects any longer.

T.C.C.: They don’t have to suffer the side effects. Again, just in the last couple weeks, I had an opportunity to be at three of these different kinds of programs in places and talking to the people who were going through the program and, of course, presenting to those programs myself what the information is. I wish the whole country could see what I have seen because it really is truly amazing.

S.J.: What are the names of some of programs again?

T.C.C.: One of them is Dr. McDougall’s program. It’s called the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California for the most part. It’s a 10-day program. He brings them in, they go through the program. It’s really a very active fun kind of a program in a way. He offers food; he gives out demonstrations of how to prepare food. He takes them shopping. He tells them all about the information. A second one is the one I just mentioned before, run by the Adventist’s Church, The Coronary Health Improvement Project. Dr. Hans Diehl is the one who has headed that up and that has now been established in, it seems, if I know my numbers right, in something like 300 towns and communities around the United States. The third one is really interesting; it’s the most aggressive one. It’s one which involves bringing people in with problems for the most part and put them on a water only fast for some period of time for upwards to maybe two, three, four weeks or longer depending on how serious the condition is, and then bringing them back gradually onto a plant based diet, and the results that they get there are staggering, but easily it’s the one procedure that would be the hardest to sell. People are not wont to believe that. In fact, these people who come there resolve their problems and go back to their doctors and their doctors immediately say oh every once in a while we see a remission but can’t have anything to do with that fasting you were doing. That is just the typical reaction and it’s something you just have to live with. But people come in with really, really serious problems and just resolve them in no time. I saw one woman in that case. She came in. She could hardly walk in the door, a really wonderful lady from Texas, and she had for some years been suffering more aggressive rheumatoid arthritis and it was really, really painful for her. Fourteen days later, she was just moving about almost as if she could dance with almost no pain.

S.J.: Marvelous.

T.C.C.: Absolutely staggering. She obviously got very enthused about our book, and she now promoting the book all over Texas because she just couldn’t believe she never heard of this before, and John McDougall does this routinely with rheumatoid arthritis patients with a somewhat less aggressive approach just simply changing their diet and not doing the fast. These things work, they really work.

S.J.: Are you familiar with the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida?

T.C.C.: Yes, I have spoken to them, in fact, I was there recently with Dr. Brian Clement who has worked with Ann Wigmore in Boston originally when it started but they have moved their main facility there. They tend to focus primarily on raw plant foods, and I think their sort of rule of thumb is to make at least 85% of the diet with raw foods. They talk a lot about food combining as well. So they have some wrinkles in their program and it’s somewhat different from some of the others and they use cereal grass juices, barley juice, water grass, wheat grass and things like this. They treat a lot of people coming in there with cancer, and I don’t know how much success they have really had. They say they have had a lot of success, but I need to know their numbers better, if I could know those, but I don’t’ know, so… They seem to get a lot of results according to what they say.

S.J.: They have hundreds of anecdotal success stories.

T.C.C.: Yes, that is the thing. A lot of them will tell you about anecdotal stories, and it’s fair enough, we can believe that, but it would be nicer, a lot easier, to convey the information to other people if we could just sort of write it up so to speak and document all of this and get it into a proper article, and that is what I have urged them to do as much as I can.

S.J.: I think they’re working on that as well.

T.C.C.: There is a whole question concerning follow up and documentation, that is important.

S.J.: Do you have any sense of what the benefits of fresh or raw plant foods would be?

T.C.C.: Well, one of the big things that is claimed is that for one thing, they’re more replete with nutrients with consideration to the way foods are prepared these days, harvested and then processed, they lose nutritional content, so eating the fresh raw food, of course, and that has been demonstrated quite well, it’s a better nutritional composition with the raw food than it is with the processed or cooked food.

S.J.: Especially if it’s been blended in a high power blender to release the finer nutrients, some of which if it’s not blended don’t get released unless you cook them like in the case of tomatoes and broccoli for example.

T.C.C.: I have heard two views of that. Not everyone agrees with that. I would have said what you just said a little while ago but I found some people that I have quite a lot of respect for who argue that a body was made to digest foods and by breaking it all up like that releasing the sugars, especially in the case of fruits, it makes it more readily available for absorption and not necessarily in the best interest so that arguments goes. I don’t know whether there is any bearing in that argument or not. I happen to think that blending these foods up is probably a pretty good idea.

S.J.: Blending green veggies. Now, this seems like a good idea doesn’t it.

T.C.C.: Yes, given those arguments that we were just talking about, releasing everything and making it easier to digest and may be even to consume.

S.J.: However, juicing fruits so that you have only the juice from the fruit, makes for a very powerful sugar-laden drink, and might impact the body too severely.

T.C.C.: Yes, that is true, and that is just what I said about releasing sugars and stuff as primary food sucrose. At the same time, other than just juicing which is one concept, juicing is straining away all the other stuff. The better approach, as far as I’m concerned, is just blending the whole fruit and taking the skin and peel and all the rest of it.

S.J.: And, in fairness, Hippocrates does not emphasize fruit, more like the green veggies and sprouts.

T.C.C.: Yes, absolutely. In fact, they tend to limit the intake of fruit except for a couple times a week maybe. It’s quite restrictive on fruit that’s true.

S.J.: The rationalization for that is that the sugars feed the cancers that they’re trying to treat, so they limit the sugars.

T.C.C.: Right, exactly.

S.J.: Do you have any sense of any of that theory?

T.C.C.: I mean that is what they say, and I lectured to the group there, the staff and the patients who were there, and we exchanged these ideas and they told me that too, and who knows, their idea is as good as mine, I’m sure and they have had some experience. Again, from the scientific empirical point of view, it would be so nice if you could actually record some, get some data on this. I know that some people say ‘what is the point?’; we don’t need to document everything. Well, yes and no. If we’re going to convince other people of these kinds of approaches, it’s better it in some kind of format, some kind of tabular form.

S.J.: Certainly, as formal study would be very valuable.

T.C.C.: Of course.

S.J.: Positron emission tomography works by tagging a sugar molecule with a radioactive atom, then the cancer, the tumors absorb the sugar molecules preferentially, it’s the food they prefer apparently and start glowing. It seems like that is supporting.

T.C.C.: It seems like it suggests that but they do it at a differential rate over and above the neighboring cells which may not be neoplastic.

S.J.: Well, they stand out by that glow and that is how you tell where the tumor is basically. They stand out from the other tissues so the other tissues do not absorb the sugar as readily as the cancerous tissues.

T.C.C.: That is pretty good support.

S.J.: That is how PET scans work.

T.C.C.: I hadn’t been familiar with the distinction with the way you just said it, it sounds entirely reasonable.

S.J.: So avoid that Coca Cola if you have cancer.

T.C.C.: Yes, but then there are all these kinds of variations in a macrobiotic diet, another group, of course.

S.J.: Yes, how do you feel about the macrobiotic diet as promoted by the Kushi Institute?

T.C.C.: Again, it’s pretty much along the lines that the rest of the folks in this business are doing. It’s plant based for the most part. They do use some fish as you know. They also like to emphasize the consumption of fermented vegetables. Food combining, again, is an important consideration from their point of view. I mean it’s kind of a unique taste, their foods, especially because of the fermented foods. You kind of have to get used to it I think but I was aware of some data that had been collected by them at Kushi Institute many years ago, especially in reference to its ability to retard the progression of cancer. I saw that information, it was impressive. Never got published really, and so I am kind of convinced that there is something there. Whether the macrobiotic diet is a better way to go, let’s say, than the Hippocrates Institute and whether that is better or worse than someone like McDougall or such. I mean, they’re all doing something. They’re all doing something that is fairly major.

S.J.: It may be that simply removing the insult of the standard diet, the insult to the body, removing it allows the body to heal.

T.C.C.: Could be.

S.J.: And move on.

T.C.C.: It could be. I think it’s time for us in this country to begin to have a dialogue, a public dialogue on these various and sundry diets that have been pushed aside by traditional medicine and traditional science as being worthless when, in fact, they’re not. I want to say that emphatically, they’re not worthless. I see a lot of evidence that these kinds of procedures have really shown some impressive results, and when I compare those results with, let’s say the traditional way of taking drugs, hands down, in my mind, it’s all about food and preventing and curing diseases. It’s not about drugs, and that is the stark contrast: that we need to keep our eye on them all.

S.J.: And part of the reason that studies haven’t been performed is that the money for studies goes to pharmaceutical studies, for medical trials for the FDA for pharmaceuticals, not to testing out whether the macrobiotic diet can lead to reversal of disease.

T.C.C.: That is right. It goes right there. There are sort of two levels to the public level or maybe two or three or four levels, I don’t know, but one is the funding for research. Why don’t we do more research and make some comparisons? We need to get serious about this that is one level that the public gets cheated out of knowing something about this. The second level is, unfortunately, the attempt by the authorities of the major medical societies to discredit those approaches, just simply discredit them and not even consider the evidence, and they seem to have an agenda. Just simply discredit on any grounds. So that is the second level where the public gets cheated out of it, too, as well. They don’t get to know this kind of information, and those are very powerful forces when the professional societies take a stand against something they know so little about.

S.J.: Tragically, many Americans may follow a dairy rich diet or eat other animal products in part because they have been told it’s very healthy for them to eat larger quantities of such products.

T.C.C.: Right, absolutely. There is an aggressive industry out there that is going to promote their wares and that is the way it’s and they’re going to keep on doing it.

S.J.: Since the government has long been disastrously constrained by industry from giving much play to the health challenges presented by animal based foods, for many years you were about the only one doing the work of informing people about it, but now as we have discussed, many groups from a grassroots level are informing people the benefits of really a more traditional diet different from the experimental conventional diet that we have now. It has really been an experiment that has been going on for more than a century that seems to have been pretty well proven a disastrous experiment. A catastrophic experiment to follow the industry processed foods diet that we have been playing with for so long now, but the traditional old-time diet is what we’re now calling an alternative diet.

T.C.C.: I am really beginning to dislike that word alternative.

S.J.: Yes, it really is the traditional. What would you call it?

T.C.C.: I don’t know, the problem, I mean the word ‘alternative’ in the beginning may have been a reasonable word, that the problem is that word ‘alternative’, ‘alternative’ this, ‘alternative’ that, in the area of health suggests to most people something really strange, not quite mainstream, not yet proven, marginal at best, and so, it has taken on its own meaning in the recent years just because it’s used so much to describe things that people don’t tend to believe in and so, coming up with a better word. If I could come up with a better word, probably in another 5 or 10 years, then I would want to reject that one. I think the main point about all this is rather than promoting a diet, whatever it may be, that we begin to understand what food can do. Really understand it, how it works, and I would like think as we have talked before that food is comprised of these countless chemicals, many of which we call nutrients that work together in marvelous ways and it’s in that fashion that these foods through their nutritional composition are able to effect health the way they do and to try to sort of tease out the effects of this that or some other chemical really defeats our purpose and causes a lot of confusion for the most part. So, I don’t know, I think it’s a question of getting to understand this. We really need to get to understand it.

S.J.: What further research would you like to see conducted regarding any of the issues that we have discussed?

T.C.C.: Well, as far as research is concerned, certainly increasing the funding of the National Institutes of Health budget to be commensurate with the interest of the public and commensurate with what can be done right now.

S.J.: The budget for nutrition?

T.C.C.: For nutrition, exactly. Right now they admit to 2-4% of the budget for nutrition projects, and quite frankly, most of that, as we talked before, is really for the testing of individual chemicals called nutrients and it’s basically turning nutrients into drugs if you will. I mean this is only just a penny on every dollar probably that is going into serious nutrition research of the kind we’re talking about. It’s not even noticeable. So, first put some money there and let’s start doing some studies. Now, as to the kind of studies that should be done, I think we should start looking at making the art of research an art of observation rather than a practice of tinkering with things. In science we always tend to want to tinker with things. We want to look at one thing at a time and see what it can do this way or that way and that is technology. Science to me should be more a matter of sitting back and observing to see what is doing what, seeing how they fare and then also taking an approach that’s more holistic in nature looking at dietary patterns. Maybe doing the kind of research that should be done in a practical way with these groups that we just talked about before who are achieving these results. Go in there and organize some really serious research maybe on the part of multiple sites that are doing these things. Seeing what can be done and comparing them all. Who is succeeding and who is not and then trying to understand if there are differences, and why are there differences. That is the kind of research that should be done.

S.J.: Would the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine with its 5,000 medical doctors among its members, among its 100,000 members, would that group be capable of such studies?

T.C.C.: Sure, I think they have done a good job in many ways over the recent years. Dr. Neal Barnard deserves a lot of credit actually for what he has been able to achieve, he and his people, and they certainly are positioned to have the interest to go forward and sort of help to make that go and now they’re getting to be a fairly substantial organization. I think they have about 60 people working on their staff and they’re getting funding. They’re growing. They’re getting quite a reputation for a serious organization and they can do it. But, nonetheless, no matter how much progress they have made they’re still kind of small in a way and I think, in this case, the National Institutes of Health will never get the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association to take too much of this too seriously. They give us watered down messages but the National Institutes of Health is funded by American taxpayer dollars and the American taxpayer needs to understand what their tax dollars are going to do, and if they really knew that their money is being spent primarily on developing yet another toxic drug instead of looking at nutrition, if they really knew the potential of what nutrition can do and what diet can do… I think the NIH has a public responsibility to put money into this kind of effort and really get serious about it, but we know that NIH, according the views of many and I am one of them, tends to be the laboratory for the pharmaceutical industry and they’re getting on the public dole, and pharmaceutical industries use the taxpayer money to do the research that they want to see done.

S.J.: What does becoming vegan mean to you personally?

T.C.C.: Well, I don’t use the word very much. I don’t really say I’m vegan. People ask me and I say, well, we’re very close to it, just as close as about anyone but…

S.J.: It’s not about purity.

T.C.C.: No it’s not about purity, no, unfortunately, the word again, like the word alternative has taken a negative meaning or negative connotation for too many people. So, I just like to talk about a plant based diet, and actually, I was an advisor at NIH reviewing grants in one of these so called study sections some years ago, and I know in my own mind I am the one who came up with the word plant based diet as opposed to using the V words and others have acknowledged that, and I know at NIH the people on these committees said that I was the one who first came up with that phraseology for whatever that is worth, but I think talking about things in a plant based nature instead of a vegan nature to me makes more sense. Then furthermore talking about, I am sure there are better words than a plant based diet maybe, but we maybe can think about that, but the important point is that we should talk about it in the context of it being really very good nutrition, healthy. It should be healthy kind of concept.

S.J.: If you had gone into a different field and continued the diet you grew up with, what do you speculate your health would be like now?

T.C.C.: I am not sure I would be here to talk to you about it for one thing. I have already outlived my father and his brother. My wife has outlived her mother by about 14 years. We have had cancer in my wife’s family. Heart disease in my family especially my father’s side and I just don’t think that I would be as healthy as I am now. I am quite sure of that, although I was at the farm and I was always outdoors and got some benefit from continuing to do that kind of thing, no I don’t think so.

S.J.: Do you get out running much?

T.C.C.: Yes, I run almost every day and in the summer time I run between 4,6 or 7 miles a day, wintertime just about the same.

S.J.: What is your age?

T.C.C.: I’ll be 72 in another three months.

S.J.: Fantastic. What is your method of avoiding knee injuries and shin splints due to running?

T.C.C.: I think that has been over emphasized, and it could be the people who get the knee injuries and the shin splints, that these people may be getting those things because they’re eating the wrong diet to start with and their bodies are not able to withstand the pummeling that occurs when you are doing this kind of thing. I know for myself, not only have I lost a lot of weight, keeping weight down by running which makes it easier on my joints, but at the same time occasionally when one starts to get older you always get a little sore here or there or muscle or bone or something like that. I find that if I get a sore in my knee or calf or whatever is hurting a bit, I just run through it. That is the time for me to go out and really run. The interesting thing is that a good friend of mine, Ruth Heidrick who has run, she’s about the same age as I am. She has run something like 70 marathons. She still runs marathons. She’s considered one of the greatest women’s athletes in the world today. I have had her in my class, a very wonderful woman. I heard her, she said the same thing. Someone asked her what about shin splints and what about this and that bone injuries. She said I just run through it. Well, I found the same thing. I mean that can be carried to the extreme. If you are really hurting, I think there are times when you shouldn’t do that, maybe, but drinking lots of water, keeping on the diet. Water is really important. Stay hydrated and I don’t think we would see these knee problems. I have been told that for the last 20 years. ‘Why are you running all the time? Aren’t you afraid you are going to get bad knees?’ My knees are stronger today than they have ever been.

S.J.: The metabolites from a plant based diet tend to be more alkaline than metabolites from an animal based diet, which tend to be more acidic. Does that have something to do with the ability to run out cramps and so on?

T.C.C.: Maybe, I hadn’t thought of it quite that way but I think you have a point there, an acidic kind of condition especially resulting from the build up of lactic acid through vigorous exercise.

S.J.: Compounded by perhaps metabolites that are acidic from the food.

T.C.C.: That is right, compounded by that and also compounded by not being hydrated enough. Put all that together. So, I think, diet can play quite a role in allowing us to remain physically active.

S.J.: As a runner, does it help to keep yourself lean?

T.C.C.: I think so. It makes sense to me.

S.J.: But isn’t it unhealthy to lose most of ones fat? What if a person without much fat got pneumonia? There wouldn’t be enough reserves to fight off the infection. I have been asked this question about my weight, since I have very little fat on me I get asked that question by concerned relatives.

T.C.C.: Do you have a lot of pneumonia in your life?

S.J.: No, zero. I hardly ever get sick.

T.C.C.: Well that is probably the best answer of all.

S.J.: Once in the last five years.

T.C.C.: You can say, well I don’t tend to have to worry about pneumonia and colds. I don’t need the fat; I don’t need to worry about it.

S.J.: I’ll tell you that in this society, if people see people without much fat on their bodies they get all worried about them or think gosh that is an odd person.

T.C.C.: Well, for years and years and years, mothers of little babies how common it was to always hear one woman tell another woman about their little baby about how plump they are. It was a common expression. Maybe it still is. Everybody starts to see a really plump baby? Plumpness is not necessarily the best thing in the world. Surely they need some energy on their body to use but that is not our problem these days.

S.J.: How often do you get sick?

T.C.C.: The last time that I really had a cold was about 10 years ago and it was just starting to run more seriously at that time, and for some reason picked up something and then that had been something like 10 years or something. I have maybe had a bit of a flu once in 20 years or 30 years.

S.J.: I am experiencing the same effect, and I have been experiencing it for years now, and I am just wondering how it is that the plant based diet and lifestyle that we have been talking about promotes such fantastic health? We have spoken about chronic disorders. How might such an approach prevent or reverse acute infectious illness such as colds, flu or bacterial infections?

T.C.C.: It’s a good question. I have often wondered to what extent can we get information on the effect of plant based diets on lets say the more infectious kinds of diseases the communicable diseases, and I think what you said just on the basis of our own personal experiences and the like, it seems like you are healthy because of the way you eat because of your exercise because of getting some outdoor exposure.

S.J.: And other lifestyle factors.

T.C.C.: And other lifestyle factors.

S.J.: Relaxing when needed, meditation.

T.C.C.: Yes, exactly, and we don’t get these kind of infectious diseases. It’s a common observation on the part of a lot of people. Unfortunately, just looking at the literature, I always have to put my scientific hat on every once in a while, unfortunately, I don’t find a lot of information on that other than the fact that people will say it. It’s generally acknowledged that a healthy person doesn’t get as much cold, flu, etc, but then you don’t go back and ask the correlation to that question, ‘well why are they healthy?’. Maybe they’re healthy because they’re eating right for starters. That linkage is hard to establish in science.

S.J.: Well what about the idea that the immune system benefits both from the nutrients and from the oxygenation due to exercise?

T.C.C.: Right, I know the immune system is always in vogue as a really principle system to keep us healthy and it’s fair enough to talk about what the immune system can do and to talk about how we maintain a healthy immune system. One of the things about the immune system, and it may be partly my ignorance compared to some of the other systems I know better, but it’s an extraordinarily complex system and things do work together within that system, and I don’t know of another system in the body that is as complex as the immune system involving the cells, involving the ability to make different kinds of things and travel around the body and fight this and that and some other kind of infections, but it’s clear that the immune system, when it’s healthy, it stands to reason that it tends to keep away those diseases whether they’re chronic in nature or whether they’re just occasional communicable kinds of disease. Plant based diets seem to do that. They seem to keep healthy immune systems.

S.J.: Do you ever drink coffee or tea or eat vegan chocolate or should I say dairy free chocolate?

T.C.C.: Yes, we have dairy free chocolate on occasion, what is it called carob.

S.J.: So rather than chocolate, you are talking about carob. That is more naturally sweetened. Chocolate requires some kind of a sweetener to be added.

T.C.C.: My wife has put in our cookies occasionally just a little bit of the chocolate to keep that chocolate taste. I don’t get too excited about eating chocolate chip cookies myself. I would rather have raisin and oatmeal type of cookies.

S.J.: What kind of treats do you use when you are feeling like a treat?

T.C.C.: Oh, a treat. I had some of my wife’s cookies for one thing. She makes cookies now with no fat and just a very minimal amount of sugar and she puts in fruits, dried fruits and things like that and grains.

S.J.: Ground nuts.

T.C.C.: Yes.

S.J.: So that takes the place of oil, for example, using the whole food nut.

T.C.C.: Exactly, I just find that I am adapted to that taste now and that to me is a great treat. Just to get her to make some of those cookies.

S.J.: What would you say to people who can’t envision letting go of caffeine or chocolate in quantities?

T.C.C.: They just have to be persistent and it’s a tough habit to break for some people. It seems to be extraordinarily tough for some people who are addicted to that, caffeine in fact. I used to drink coffee, too, but only a cup or two a day was enough for me to make me a bit addicted, and so when I quit I got a headache. I know what it’s like to sort of have to quit, and I can just well imagine that those who drink much more and try to quit it’s almost impossible without going through a lot of suffering but I think you just have to be persistent. Just quit and live with it for a few days and get past it. I don’t know what else to say about that.

S.J.: I found many useful suggestions on steps to take to eliminate or reduce addictive caffeine, chocolate and dairy products and the biochemical reasons for their addictive potential in the book “Breaking the Food Seduction” by Neal Barnard, MD.

T.C.C.: Yes, I have not read that book, but Neal has produced some very nice books, and I am sure that he has got something really good to say. I must read that.

S.J.: What struck you as one of the more comical events that have happened related to your work?

T.C.C.: I wish I could see more comedy and not so much of the other kind. Gosh, I don’t know. You have me stumped on that one. I think the notion, I thought it was kind of comical at the time, that people thought it was comical about all of a sudden discovering that dogs which I always throught were carnivores pretty much and had to have all that meat and stuff and to discover that, in fact, people have dogs and they’re feeding them vegan dog food and they have sleek coats. The dogs seem to be doing really well. That is not comical but it’s unusual in the face of a lot of popular opinion.

S.J.: Most of the subjects that we have discussed are detailed in the book “The China Study” which cites hundreds of peer reviewed articles. Many further relevant articles can be found on your website: .

Thank you very much, Dr. Campbell for your cogent remarks, for your life’s work making an historic contribution to our understanding of the improvement of nutritional support of more robust health and for writing with your son, Thomas, the best researched treatise on nutrition ever published, The China Study.

T.C.C.: Your comments are very kind, and I also want to thank you for your generosity in making all this possible. I also might add another thing about my son Tom. He graduated theater, of course, I think I pointed this out before and now he’s going back to medical school, and during the course of writing the book with me, he was, in fact, a full co-author, I must emphasize excellent, he learned a lot about the field and had to go back and take some science courses a bit. He recently ended up in the 97th percentile in the MCAT entrance exam, so he now wants to be a doctor following this path.

S.J.: Was he raised on a plant based diet?

T.C.C.: Yes, and I am very excited about it because he knows that you have to come up with a model so that he can make money and at the same time do what he wants to do, and he has pretty well in mind what he wants to do now, and his new wife is an official yoga instructor now, and so together Tom and Kim and others like them, some young people, Dr. McDougall’s son is in first year medical school too. There are some young people coming along at the outset, going to medical school. I had some of these kinds of students in my own class at Cornell and now just finishing up medical school and still with it. They’re committed to go out and do it and I think that these young people… that is one of the really most hopeful signs that I know of. That they’re going to go out and start their career this way, make it work. They’re not going into the trade, just primed and ready to go out and make a lot of money just pushing drugs. They’re going out with a mission and I just think that is very exciting. So, thanks again.