–“A significant health promoter” is how Delbert R. Dorscheid, M.D., Ph.D., describes conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring fatty acid found primarily in beef and dairy fats. Dr. Dorscheid, a cancer and asthma researcher on the faculty in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Chicago, has just completed a scientific review of more than 200 published research and clinical studies world wide on CLA’s health benefits. None of these have been previously released to the media.

The latest research, according to Dr. Dorscheid, indicates that CLA’s most dramatic impact may be on breast cancer reduction. “There are now several reputable studies demonstrating that the incidence of breast cancer is directly proportional to the level of CLA in body tissue,” he says. “The more CLA in the tissue, the less incidence of breast cancer.” He adds that there are studies indicating that CLA causes a decrease in tumor initiation and growth and also reduces the activation of certain cancer-causing compounds.

Dr. Dorscheid says that other studies are showing that CLA appears to provide additional health results, including improving asthma and blood sugar control and limiting the extent of atherosclerosis which can lead to heart disease.

CLA was first identified in 1987 by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mark E. Cook, Ph.D. who is conducting research at Madison on the cancer and immune benefits of CLA, says that there are at least 60 other academic and industry research centers doing in-depth research on CLA.

“The findings are very exciting and create a body of knowledge that support some very profound expectations for the role of CLA as a major player in important areas of disease prevention and overall health for the population,” says Dr. Cook.

Scientists today believe that Americans are getting much less CLA in their diets than they did 30 years ago. This is due to two factors: We have substantially reduced our consumption of beef and cattle dairy products to avoid cholesterol, and beef and dairy cattle production of CLA has been reduced by 65% caused by changes in cattle feed. When cattle feed on pasture grass, their digestive system converts linoleic acid into CLA. Today, the majority of cattle are being fed on forage.

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Some researchers believe this reduction in CLA intake is a contributing factor to the steady rise of obesity in the U.S. Others hypothesize that an increase here in the incidence of breast and prostate cancer and asthma severity might also be due to decreased CLA intake. The average CLA intake today is estimated to lie between 15 and 175 mg daily. This intake is far below 3000 mg a day, a level at which the anticarcinogenic effects may be seen, according to Dr. Dorscheid.

`Obviously, there is need for additional studies, some of which are underway and others in the planning stages, to verify these findings and hypotheses, but the preliminary results look exceedingly hopeful,” Dr. Dorscheid says. “As such, CLA may be an important and necessary dietary supplement for humans.”

The benefits of CLA can be obtained through the patented Tonalin® CLA, available since 1997 from Natural, Inc, based in Vernon Hills, IL. Natural’s Tonalin® CLA uses a proprietary process which converts linoleic acid in safflower oil into conjugated linoleic acid. Tonalin® CLA is found in such U.S. product lines as Safeway Select, GNC, Your Life, Nature’s Way and Nature’s Plus. These products are available in supermarkets, drug stores, health food stores and from mass merchandisers nationwide. It is also distributed in Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, the Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom.