linoleic acid (CLA) is a fatty acid, which occurs naturally in the
milk and meat of ruminant animals (such as cows, sheep, horses and
goats). Natural bacteria that aid in the digestion of food (particularly
cellulose) are in the stomach of these animals and make CLA which
gets absorbed into the animals’ blood stream and is secreted
in their milk. Milk and meat from ruminant animals has been a staple
part of the human diet for thousands of years.
scientists are beginning to investigate CLA for health benefits. CLA
has a molecular weight of 280.5 Daltons and its chemical formula is
C18H32O2. There are many different chemical forms of CLA. However,
in dairy products the two most common forms are 9-cis, 11-trans CLA
and 10-trans, 12-cis CLA. Recently, these two particular structures
of CLA appeared to inhibit the growth and development of mammary,
colon and forestomach carcinomas in rats. However, its effectiveness
as a chemotherapeutic agent in humans has not been established nor
is it known how CLA might work to stop cancer at the cellular level.
CLA is also being investigated as a potential treatment for obesity
and high cholesterol. Quite possibly, CLA has medicinal effects that
not only have protected both humans and animals for millennia but
that could be further exploited.