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J Dairy Sci. 1999 Jun;82(6):1339-49.

Conjugated linoleic acid and other anticarcinogenic agents of bovine milk fat.

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Human Nutrition Program, Dairy Research and Development Corporation, Melbourne, Australia.


Prevention is an important strategy for conquering cancer. Milk fat contains a number of components, such as conjugated linoleic acid, sphingomyelin, butyric acid, ether lipids, beta-carotene, and vitamins A and D that have anticancer potential. Conjugated linoleic acid inhibits the growth of a number of human cancer cell lines and suppresses chemically-induced tumor development at a number of sites in animal models. As little as 0.1% of dietary conjugated linoleic acid inhibits the development of rat mammary tumors, independent of the amount and type of fat in the diet. Sphingomyelin, through its metabolites ceramide and sphingosine, participates in multiple antiproliferative pathways associated with suppression of carcinogenesis. Dietary sphingomyelin inhibits murine colon tumor development. Butyric acid, uniquely present in ruminant milk, is a potent antineoplastic agent and may ameliorate its potency through synergy with other milk fat components. Dietary butyric acid inhibits mammary carcinoma development in rats. In humans, ether lipids, beta-carotene, and vitamins A and D are associated with anticancer effects. Cows have the ability to extract anticarcinogenic components from pasture and feed and transfer them to milk. Use of genetic engineering and other techniques to increase the range and level of anticarcinogens in pasture and supplements may increase the anticancer potential of milk.

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