368 TH E CH I NA STU DY
advanced-stage prostate cancer.28 If combined with low blood levels of
a protein that inactivates IGF-I^29 (Le., more IGF-l activity), there is 9.5
times the risk of advanced-stage prostate cancer.2S This level of disease risk
is alarming. Fundamental to it all is the fact that animal-based foods like
meat and dairy3Q-32 lead to more IGF-I and less 1,25 D, both of which
increase cancer risk.
These are only a few of the factors and events associated with this
vitamin D network. With the right food and environment, these events
and reactions cooperate in an integrated manner to produce health ben-
efits. In contrast, when the wrong food is consumed, its adverse effects
are mediated by not one, but many, of the reactions within this network.
Also, many factors in such foods, even beyond the protein and calcium,
participate in causing the problem. And, finally, it often is not one dis-
ease but many that are likely to occur.
What impresses me about this and other networks is the convergence
of so many disease-causing factors operating through so many different
reactions to produce a common result. When that common result is
more than one disease, it is even more impressive. When these various
factors are found in one type of food and this food is epidemiologi-
cally related to one or more of these diseases, the associations become
still more impressive. This example begins to explain why dairy foods
would be expected to increase the risk of these diseases. There is no
way that so many intricate mechanisms, operating in such synchrony to
produce the same result, are only a random unimportant happenstance.
Nature would not have been so devious as to refine such a useless in-
ternally conflicting maze. Networks like this exist throughout the body
and within the cells. But of even more importance, they are highly inte-
grated into a far larger dynamic called "life."