It has been shown time and time again that diet modification is the most important treatment strategy against any type of cancer. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is natural fatty acid and has been shown to have a number of clear anti-cancer benefits, with the most impressive being its ability to reduce metastases, decrease blood supply formation and therefore slow tumor development.
CLA’s anti-cancer properties were first spotted in 1979, when scientists at the University of Wisconsin found that mice treated with a strong cancer-causing chemical developed fewer tumors if they were exposed to a beef extract. At that time, researchers did not know what was responsible for the extract’s protective effect, and it wasn’t until 1987 that CLA itself was identified.
A study published in 1991 by scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo found that CLA blocked the development of breast tumors in rats given a cancer-causing chemical. Writing in the journal Cancer Research, the scientists concluded that CLA “is more powerful than any other fatty acid in modulating tumor development”.
More recently, in May 2013, Iranian scientists published a study in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies that looked at the effect of CLA supplementation on inflammation in patients who were receiving chemotherapy treatment for rectal cancer. They concluded: “It seems that CLA may provide new complementary treatment by reducing tumor invasion and resistance to cancer treatment in patients with rectal cancer.”
So what food sources contain CLA? Dietary sources of CLA are quite limited although it has the same chemical composition as linoleic acid, which is commonly found in vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds. Because ruminates like cows have the ability to convert linoleic acid to CLA, small amounts of CLA can be found in beef and dairy products. CLA is most abundantly found in ‘ghee butter’, which is antioxidant rich and mostly used in Indian cuisine.
Numerous studies have now shown that CLA inhibits the production of cancer in different parts of the body, but the results with breast cancer appear to be the most impressive. Basically, CLA works in the body by improving immune system response and balances hormone levels. Studies in CLA consistently showed that it protects the cells from becoming cancer cells, therefore it’s potential therapeutic uses are in cancer prevention as well as an adjunctive therapy in hormone related cancers.