by Anthony Almada, M.S.
Dairy Fat Friend
Could Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) help prevent cancer or aid in weight loss? CLA, found in some dairy products, has shown anticancer activity in numerous animal studies, as well as assisting fat reduction and muscle gain. However, in the body-remodeling category, the 46 human studies of CLA to date have all struck out — no fat loss or muscle gain. Perhaps the most promising area of study for CLA lies in the areas of Type II diabetes (preliminary data suggest a positive effect on insulin action), inflammatory diseases like arthritis, and breast and prostate cancer prevention.
CLA is produced from an essential fatty acid called linoleic acid found in sheep and cows. The processing of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt increases their CLA content. This group of fatty acids contains trans fatty acids, but, unlike their margarine and shortening counterparts, these are linked to health protection.
Note: Because CLA is comprised of several fatty acids, many types of CLA exist. To date, the exact and most effective profile remains unknown.
Starflower Shines in Breast Health
While some test tube and animal studies have shown the active fatty acid (gamma-linolenic acid) in BORAGE OIL has anticancer properties, positive results have recently been recorded in humans. In the study, women with breast cancer received either the breast cancer drug tamoxifen or tamoxifen plus borage oil. Within six weeks, breast biopsies revealed significant improvement in the borage oil-plus-tamoxifen group over the tamoxifen-only group, without additional side effects.
Derived from the seeds of the starflower, borage oil is a potent source of the anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The anticancer property in borage oil is likely due to its high GLA content.
Furthermore, borage oil was suspected to alter the hormone responsiveness of the breast tumors, suggesting that women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer are prime candidates for this new treatment.
Glucosamine's Kissing Cousin?
One of the newest entrants in the fatty acid fray, cetyl myristoleate (CMO) may prove to be the next weapon in fighting arthritis. Although it has yet to be detected in foods or human tissue, CMO has been found in beavers and in the tissue of mice resistant to developing a certain type of arthritis that resembles rheumatoid. Studies done more than three decades ago found that CMO and other fatty acids sharing an attached "cetyl" group prevent the formation of autoimmune-induced arthritis in rats. This mice research actually generated the CMO industry.
Clinical trials on at least one CMO-containing product are under way, with results expected by year-end. Whether this fatty acid blend is the kissing cousin of glucosamine, which is effective in treating osteoarthritis, remains to be seen. A caveat: Myristic acid, one of the saturated fatty acids found in some CMO products, may elevate blood cholesterol.
"Supplements" is written by nutrition & exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, M.S. He has collaborated on over 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition (www.imaginutrition.com).
Photography by: Jeff Padrick