The main omega-6 oil, called linoleic acid, can trigger inflammation when consumed in excess. This can cause a number of diseases, and may also worsen many existing diseases.
However, if linoleic acid undergoes a chemical alteration called conjugation, it becomes a very healthy oil. In fact, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) can reduce cancer risk and cancer growth, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, and improve brain function.
The effects of various forms of CLA differ and vary among the tissues of the body. For example, the effect on the liver is somewhat different than in the brain.
A number of studies have examined how CLA affects cells. It operates through multiple mechanisms, such as cell-signaling, effects on cell membranes, production of eicosanoids, and genetic effects.
One of the best-studied effects of CLA is its ability to prevent cancer and reduce the growth and spread of certain cancers. Several animal studies have shown that CLA inhibited tumors of the breast, colon, and stomach triggered by carcinogenic chemicals.
In one of the studies, CLA did not reduce the number of pancreatic tumors induced by a carcinogenic chemical, but it significantly reduced the metastasis (spread) of the tumors,
which is the main reason cancers are deadly. (
For more information on fighting cancer, read my special report "Prevent Cancer Before It's Too Late.''
Caution should be exercised in giving CLA to cancer patients, as some studies have found that for less-common tumors — cancer of the small intestine and certain liver cancers, for instance — CLA can actually make the tumor grow faster.
But for most cancers, CLA suppresses both growth and spread. These include:
• Colon cancer
• Breast cancer
• Prostate cancer
• Primary brain tumors (gliomas)
• Pancreatic cancer
Several companies are now selling CLA as a weight-loss product. This, however, is a bit misleading, as it may make people actually gain weight by increasing muscle growth along with the loss of fat tissue. Muscle is much heavier than fat.
I once had a young female patient who had a problem with localized fat accumulation that was resistantto both exercise and dietary control. I put her on 2,000 mg of CLA twice a day. Over the next several months, she lost the unwanted fat.
What was interesting about this case was that the fat was localized in her thighs, which can be the most difficult to lose. Yet she lost that fat without losing excess fat in other areas.
In repeating this treatment for other patients CLA has also been found to reverse obesity caused by monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which can be a very difficult fat to lose. It also works well against intra-abdominal fat — the kind that is particularly inflammatory and harmful.
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