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What are the medical uses for conjugated linoleic acid?

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Conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, treats high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity in adults and children, asthma, and birch allergies, according to WebMD. A daily dose of up to 7 grams of CLA is useful in treating obesity in adults, especially when added to milk, while 3 grams daily reduces body fat in children. Combining CLA with ramipril is more effective for controlling blood pressure than the use of ramipril alone.

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The role of conjugated linoleic acid in weight reduction might be due to its appetite suppressant qualities, but research does not conclusively show that this leads to a reduction in calories, explains WebMD. Early studies do indicate that CLA reduces swelling, pain and stiffness in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and that it improves exercise tolerance and breathing capacity in individuals with asthma when taken for 12 weeks. While CLA is effective for treating birch allergies, it does not appear to improve other allergy symptoms.

Conjugated linoleic acid is found in highest concentrations in beef and dairy products, and the average diet provides 15 to 174 milligrams daily, reports WebMD. While some early research indicates that eating large amounts of the CLA found in cheese may help lower the risk of breast cancer, other studies contradict this and suggest the opposite: that high intake of CLA is a risk factor for developing breast cancer. While research does show that a high amount of dietary CLA may help prevent rectal and colon cancer in women, it is unclear, as of 2015, if the same benefits can come from supplementation alone.

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