Does CLA Work?
Many people may wonder, "Does CLA work?" A few small studies have shown that CLA may be effective at reducing body fat and possibly increasing muscle mass. Also, there is some evidence that CLA can lower the risk of developing colon and breast cancer. Until adequate studies are performed, however, it cannot be assumed that CLA is both safe and effective for these conditions.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in dairy and meat products. CLA can also be made synthetically and is available as a supplement. CLA is often used to help people lose weight, and there is also some evidence that it may help to prevent some types of cancer.
CLA and Weight Loss
A few small studies have suggested that CLA may be effective at reducing body weight. According to these studies, CLA did not cause weight loss, but it did cause a decrease in body fat (and presumably an increase in muscle mass). There is also some evidence that CLA may help suppress the appetite (as most types of fat tend to do), although it is not clear if this results in an overall reduction in caloric intake. More studies are necessary to confirm that CLA is both safe and effective for decreasing body fat.
Importantly, some forms of CLA (which are higher in man-made CLA supplements) may increase the risk of diabetes in people with abdominal obesity (fat around the midsection). Therefore, CLA may not be the best choice for people with this body type.
CLA and Cancer
There is some evidence that people who have a diet high in CLA have a lower risk of colon cancer. There is also some evidence that a diet high in CLA may also reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is not known exactly why CLA might reduce the risk of cancer, and it is not known if CLA supplementation provides the same benefits as obtaining CLA through dietary means.