What are the Health Benefits of CLA?

In our last article we learned what is CLA and its history. In this article we will review the health benefits of increasing your CLA levels. While we will summarize the health benefits that have been demonstrated by clinical studies, complete references will be shown on the CLA research page.

What are some of the benefits of increasing my CLA levels?

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has been shown to

  • Decrease the risk of break cancer
  • Increase metabolic rate
  • Decrease body fat
  • Enhance muscle growth
  • Promote a healthy heart - lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lower insulin resistance
  • Enhance the immune system
We know the above list looks to be good to be true, but over 200 studies on CLA have shown the above statements to be accurate.

Can you give me more research on how CLA can produce the health benefits listed above?

Sure. Here is some information on each health benefit:

Decrease the risk of break cancer

In a French study done by Lavillonniere et.al. in 2003 they compared breast adipose tissue from women with breast cancer and a control group. The control group's higher level of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) suggested CLA's protective effect against breast cancer.1

Another study published in Nutr. Cancer showed the inverse association between dietary and serum conjugated linoleic acid and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.2

Increase metabolic rate

Numerous animal and human studies have shown that CLA can help increase metabolic rate and allow you to burn more fat.3, 4

Decrease Body Fat and Increase Muscle Growth

There is so much interest in CLA and its role in decreasing body fat that we have created a whole article on how does CLA burn fat?

While there are numerous studies on CLA and body fat reduction, the most significant human studies showed a 9% reduction in body fat and 2% increase in lean body mass - all with no change in diet or exercise.5 Another study showed "Supplementation with CLA during strength training increases lean tissue mass and decreases fat mass."6

Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides

In an animal study, after only 12 weeks, the LDL and total cholesterol and triglyceride counts were markedly lower in the blood of the animals fed CLA.7

Lower insulin resistance

Studies have shown that CLA could possibly be able to affect and treat some types of diabetes. According to Dr. Martha Belury at Purdue University and Dr. John Vandel Heuvel at Penn State University, CLA normalizes impaired glucose tolerance in non insulin-dependent diabetes. In earlier experiments by Houseknecht et. al., it was observed that CLA and troglitazone reversed the symptoms of diabetes in a specific diabetic animal model. Effects included decreased triglycerides, insulin and leptin, and improved glucose utilization. Belury and Vanden Heuvel conclude that CLA may represent an important agent for the treatment of Type II diabetes.8, 9

Because CLA isomers share many of the attributes of the clinical thiazolidinedione drug, troglitazone, without exhibiting as many side effects, CLA may represent a new insulin-sensitizing agent for treatment of Type II diabetes.

Enhance the immune system

In 1991, evidence obtained through the collaborative efforts of Dr. Mark Cook and Dr. Michael Pariza at the University of Wisconsin revealed the immune boosting potential of CLA. Feeding CLA to chicks provided partial protection against the catabolic effects of exposure to endotoxin. This research expanded to include rodents and supported the fact that CLA-fed animals exhibit enhanced immune functions.10

CLA is the only known nutrient that enhances the immune system and protects against the harmful "cellular backlash" that occurs when the immune system is stimulated.

As published in separate issues of Cancer Research, CLA has been shown to be an effective antioxidant in vitro according to Dr. Yeong Ha and in vivo according to Dr. Clement Ip. Because numerous studies indicate that oxidative reactions are associated with the development of cancer and atherosclerosis, CLA's ability to reduce the harmful effects of these oxidative reactions could be its most important health benefit.11, 12

In addition, research suggests that CLA may ease the inflammation that occurs when the immune system is challenged.

How long will it take before I see the above benefits?

CLA is not a quick fix supplement, rather it should be viewed as an excellent long term supplement. Similar to vitamins or minerals, CLA is something you take everyday and over the course of a few months you start to notice how much better you are feeling. We strongly recommend you use a CLA supplement for at least 6 weeks before making any judgement on its effectiveness. If you are starting to see some good results in 6 weeks, you should continue to take CLA on a daily basis.

In the end, while the results can take a few weeks to materialize, the results are well worth the wait. We should also stress that CLA is not a miracle pill. It always makes sense to exercise and eat healthy to see the most significant results.

Are there any side effects from taking CLA?

Supplementing with CLA has been shown to be very safe. With over 200 studies done on CLA, the only real side effect some people notice is an upset stomach if they take large amounts of CLA.

Of course, as with any supplement, you should check with your Doctor before starting a new supplement program.

How does CLA help the body burn fat?

Since burning fat is such an important aspect of supplementing with CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) we have dedicated an entire article to the subject.

Please click here to learn how CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) helps burn fat.


1. Chajes V, Lavillonniere F, Maillard V, Giraudeau B, Jourdan ML, Sebedio JL, Bougnoux P. Conjugated linoleic acid content in breast adipose tissue of breast cancer patients and the risk of metastasis. Nutr. Cancer 45(1):17–23 (2003).
2.Aro A, Mannisto S, Salminen I, Ovaskainen ML, Kataja V, Uusitupa M. Inverse association between dietary and serum conjugated linoleic acid and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Nutr. Cancer 38:151–157 (2000).
3. Kamphuis MMJW, Lejeune MPGM, Saris WHM, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. The effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation after weight loss on body weight regain, body composition, and resting metabolic rate in overweight subjects. Int. J. Obesity 27(7):840–847 (2003).
4. Terpstra AHM. Differences between humans and mice in efficacy of the body fat lowering effect of conjugated linoleic acid: Role of metabolic rate. J. Nutr. 131:2067–2068 (2001).
5. Gaullier JM, Halse J, Hoye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 79(6):1118–1125 (2004).
6. Pinkoski C, Chilibeck PD, Candow DG, Esliger D, Farthing J. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation during strength training. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2004;36(Suppl):S284 (abstract).
7. Kritchevsky D, Tepper SA, Wright S, Czarnecki SK. Influence of graded levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on experimental atherosclerosis in rabbits. Nutr. Res. 22(11):1275–1279 (2002).
8. Belury MA, Mahon A, Banni S. The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomer, t10c12-CLA, is inversely associated with changes in body weight and serum leptin in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J. Nutr. 133(1):257S–260S (2003).
9. Khan SA, Heuvel JPV, Reviews: Current Topics - Role of nuclear receptors in the regulation of gene expression by dietary fatty acids (Review). J. Nutr. Biochem. 14(10):554–567 (2003).
10. Pariza, MW, Park Y, Cook ME. Mechanisms of action of conjugated linoleic acid: evidence and speculation. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 223:8–13 (2000).
11. Kim EJ, Jun JG, Park HS, Kim SM, Ha YL, Park JHY. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) inhibits growth of Caco-2 colon cancer cells: Possible mediation by oleamide. Anticancer Res. 22(4):2193–2197 (2002).
12. Ip MM, Masso-Welch PA, Ip C. Prevention of mammary cancer with conjugated linoleic acid: Role of the stroma and the epithelium. J. Mammary Gland Biol. 8(1):103–118 (2003).

Information Guide for CLA EDGE -
100% Tonalin CLA
General Description and Ordering What is CLA? The Health Benefits of CLA How Does CLA burn fat? Are all CLA supplements the same? Research on CLA

Please consult with a health care professional before starting any supplementation program. The information contained on this site is general in nature and Company does not take any responsibility for any errors that may appear. Company has made every attempt to make the information as accurate as possible. However, Company does not warrant its accuracy. Please note that the statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the FDA.

Copyright 2005, Company

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