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From: Mark Rifkin (
Subject:         Re: perfect timing!
Date: December 14, 2005 at 12:28 am PST

In Reply to: perfect timing! posted by VegMom on December 13, 2005 at 6:15 pm:


Congrats on your passion for nutrition! I remember being in that position four years ago.

There has been a fair amount of research on vegan diets. Research I've read suggests that vegans enjoy no significant health benefits as compared to those who eat small amounts (10-20% of calories?) of flesh. In fact, some research shows many vegans have vitamin, mineral or essential fatty acid deficiencies.

And I am familiar with some of Campbell's research, which I believe is well-done; and he may well hold unique perspectives that will one day be considered self-evident principles of health. But as far as I know, his research is all epidemiological studies, which may provide hints and interesting research directions to pursue, but "epi" studies are not considered to provide a high level of "proof" (however one wants to define that). There are simply too many variables that could potentially confound the results. For example: Russians eat more cabbage than Americans and also suffer from epidemic rates of alcoholism. Does eating cabbage cause alcoholism? Of course not.

That is why experimental studies in laboratory-controlled environments are considered the standard. In theory, because all variables are controlled, any differences may be attributed to the experimental diet.

This is not to say Campbell is wrong, or chasing a false theory. He may well be correct. But epi studies cannot "prove" anything one way or the other.

Mark Rifkin

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