CLA AND YOUR HEALTH: what can this fat do?

It’s a acronym that’s tossed around frequently when it comes to cancer cures. CLA. But do you know what it stands for and what it can do?

Scientists have been looking for cancer cures for years, and CLA is a fairly new fat that is being studied closely because of its potential cancer-diminishing properties.

CLA – conjugated linoleic acid – is a fatty acid. And if you search what it is, Google comes up with some pretty interesting articles. Articles that range from weight loss to gaining muscle.

We narrowing in on its purported ability to help with cancer and why it’s important to eat grass or pastured animals

(can’t make any claims here)


CLA and your health


As discovered by Michael Pariza, one of the first beneficial effects attributed to CLA was its anti-carcinogenicity. Several studies show an improvement in murine carcinoma when CLA is supplemented. These include mammary, colon, stomach, prostate, and hepatic carcinomas.

CLA and your health: What can this fat do?

Other studies, such as this one, make some interesting points:

CLA Studies on Cancer in Humans

There is some evidence to suggest that CLA consumption reduces the incidence and progression of some types of cancer in humans. There is a significant negative correlation between milk intake and risk of breast or colon cancer [63], an effect that is coincident with elevated serum CLA levels in a particular group of Finnish women [64]. Similarly, another study showed that subjects consuming four or more servings of dairy per day showed a reduced risk of colorectal cancer [65]. Furthermore, a study was conducted in women with Stage I–III breast cancer, in which the subjects (n = 23, no placebo group) were given 7.5 g/day mixed CLA for at least 10 days prior to their tumor removal surgery [66]. Spot 14 (S14), a regulator of fatty acid synthesis that has been shown to augment breast cancer proliferation [67], was decreased following CLA supplementation [66]. Similarly, the Ki-67 scores declined with CLA treatment, indicative of a reduction in tumor proliferation [66]. The results of these studies suggest that CLA could be a potential therapeutic against breast and/or colon cancer.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid Effects on Cancer, Obesity, and Atherosclerosis: A Review of Pre-Clinical and Human Trials with Current Perspectives

If you’d like to read more study results and summaries, check this page out.


Here’s a quote from Canceractive on CLA:

Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is a natural fatty acid which has a number of clear benefits in cancer where it seems to stop inflammation, prevent cancer formation, limit metastases, stop blood supply formation and tumour development; it is found in high levels in ruminants fed grass, organically.

Chris Woollams, CANCERactive

The benefits of CLA are not limited to just helping with cancer, it may also:

  • Lower risk of diabetes
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Potentially lower (bad) cholesterol
  • Improved metabolism (increased levels of fat burning)
  • Improved body composition (more muscle, less fat)
  • Reduced fat levels (decreased abdominal fat)
  • Increased immune response
  • Increased ability to breakdown fats

Important Detail Here!

Yes, you can buy CLA in a capsule. But it is NOT the same as consuming it in foods. Eating CLA in food gives you the whole package and your body knows what to do with it. It’s that way with most supplements. Often the whole is better than the part.

Risks of taking a supplemental form of CLA may include insulin resistance, dangerous side effects on the liver, and upset stomachs to name a few.

I could not find (at the time of this writing) any side effects of eating grass-fed meats for the purpose of increasing CLA in your diet.


cla and your health

Health Benefits, Grass, and Interesting Notes

Rumen pH is closely linked to CLA production in ruminants. A grain-based diet decreases the rumen’s pH, which reduces the number of key bacteria that create CLA. Conversely, a grass diet promotes a favourable rumen environment for CLA-producing bacteria. (source)

An interesting side note here, a lowered rumen pH (bad) therefore increases the amount of salmonella in the animal (also bad).

Because pigs are monogastric creatures, only a small amount of CLA is produced by way of bacterial biohydrogenation in pigs, and pork usually contains a limited amount of CLA (0.1–0.2 mg/g fatty acids). Interestingly enough though, pigs do not further saturate CLA if it is in their feed and put CLA into their tissues with relatively high efficiency. What does that mean? When pigs are fed, for example, milk from grass-fed cows, they can put the CLA from that into their meat which increases the amount of CLA in their meat. (source)

This further shows how important diet is in the animals we plan on consuming. It all comes down to a healthy diet.


“Better to pay your farmer than the doctor.”

Final Thoughts

CLA is just of the things in pastured or forage-based meats that is vitally important for our health. And it is absolutely amazing! What else are we missing? What else have scientists not yet discovered?

Voting with our dollars has become even more important. Important for our economy, our family, and most importantly, our health. Start small. Support your local farmer, markets, and suppliers. Ask about how they grow and feed their animals. Get to know them. As a local farm ourselves, we know how much it means when people WANT good food!

The choice is yours. What are you going to do today?

~ Megan 🙂



CLA AND YOUR HEALTH: what can this fat do?

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