Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Cancer in Humans-Is there a Role or not? A Review of the Scientific Evidence
Conjugated linoleic acids are naturally occurring fatty acids that are found predominantly in ruminant meat, milk and dairy products. They are composed mainly of two isomers: cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12 fatty acid. Their synthesis occurs mainly by the action of ruminal bacteria, Butyrivibrio Fibrisolvens, and a host of lactic acid bacteria, which isomerize linoleic acid to CLA or by synthesis via α9-desaturase of 11-trans octadecanoic acid, and, through desaturation of free linoleic acid or other unsaturated fatty acids. Although cis-9, trans-11 and trans-9, trans-11 CLA isomers have consistently shown anti-carcinogenicity on animal models and on cancerous human cells, results from clinical trials are inconclusive and conflicting. Despite most of the data on humans being mainly from epidemiological studies, a few clinical studies with breast and colorectal cancer sufferers have shown some promise. Controlled, long-term, racial and gender diverse, geographically spread clinical studies are required to understand the link between CLA intake and incidence of human cancers.