Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Are You Getting Enough CLA to Stop Cancer?
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) It’s probably a good thing we are giving up the war on dietary fat and getting back to the diet our ancestors ate. As a group they had better health across the board, with much less cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. One of the big reasons this was so is that they ate plenty of full-fat dairy products that came from grass-fed cows, and they ate pastured beef. These foods contain a powerful substance known as conjugated linoleic acid or CLA for short. This substance has been heavily documented as a primary reason our ancestors had such good health.
Linoleic acid is a member of the omega fatty acids, a group that performs vital functions in the body and is required for good health. The conjugated form of it, CLA, is a combination of the forms in which linoleic acid appears. Small amounts of CLA are found in many foods, but the best sources are products from ruminants, animals that chew their cud. CLA can be beneficial in both prevention and treatment of a number of health conditions that plague the people of today, the generations that bought into the idea that eating fat is bad for you.
The anti-tumor activities of CLA are especially interesting. Many studies in animals and humans have shown that CLA is able to suppress the development of cancer at relatively low dietary amounts. A study from 2005 concluded that research on CLA had provided a vast amount of information about the mechanism through which CLA functions in the prevention of cancer.
Although CLA has been shown to decrease skin, liver, stomach, and colon cancer in a large number of animal studies, its results with breast cancer are worthy of special note.
After showing CLA was able to prevent breast cancer, it was also found that it incorporates itself into breast tissue functioning as a safeguard. In animals that already had breast cancer, CLA was able to decrease tumor size and number. According to natural health advocate Dr. Joseph Mercola, 0.05% of CLA in your diet could reduce tumors by more than 50%, for breast and various other cancers.
Studies with human subjects have shown that the greater the CLA blood serum levels, the less the risk of breast cancer.
Much evidence has suggested that being overweight or obese plays an important role in cancers, especially those of the breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, pancreatic, and liver. Research has shown that CLA acts through biological activities and multiple mechanisms to inhibit the initiation and promotion of the stages of carcinogenesis in the obese and overweight.
Other research on humans has found that CLA helps lower body fat and preserves muscle tissue. The maximum benefits went to those combining exercise with regular dietary consumption of products containing CLA. Animal studies have shown that CLA not only reduces body fat, but it increases lean body mass.
Other conditions that may be improved by adding products containing CLA to your diet include
Why full-fat dairy products are the best dairy products
CLA is found only in the fat of dairy products and beef. The lower the fat content of the milk, the less CLA will be found in it. So much for drinking skim or low-fat milk, the milk we have been told to drink for a half century! Is that why there has been such an epidemic of cancer and other diseases during that time?
Much work on understanding CLA has been done at the University of Utah, with its Dr. Tilak Dhiman. He has found that CLA content of milk is as much as five times higher when cows graze green, growing pastures than when their diet is high in grain. He says something in green grass enhances the growth of the particular bacteria in the rumen that are responsible for producing CLA in milk. Another possibility he sees is that grazing cows have different microbes in the rumen than cows fed inside a barn.
“We cut our consumption of CLA when we changed the ways we feed our animals,” he said in the school’s publication CLA: The Modern Food Chain’s Weak Link. He noted that 40 years ago animals mostly grazed on pasture.
Today’s conventionally produced full-fat milk sold in supermarkets contains an average of 4.5 milligrams of CLA per gram of fat. This is only one-quarter of the lowest effective intake found in research using lab animals. But Dr. Dhiman has shown that supplementing the diet of factory farmed cows can raise CLA levels.
According to him, CLA content is very stable, meaning it is not affected during pasteurization or cooking.
Other meats that contain small amounts of CLA include chicken, pork and veal. Swiss and Colby are the best cheese sources of CLA, but some is found in all cow’s cheese. If you are a vegan, CLA can be had from white button mushrooms. Supplements of CLA that have been synthesized from sunflower oil are available
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About the Author:
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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