I received a question about the use of safflower oil for a type of lyphosarcoma (lymphoma) in dogs. The group of active ingredients in safflower oil is called the Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLA). There are other things in safflower oil too that have effects, but this is a biggy.
So should we be giving this stuff to dogs with cancer?
Well, let’s first take a look at what the deal with CLA is. There are really several forms of it with different chemical structures and scientific names. They have different effects, but in supplements and in the diet they are present together typically.
You find CLA in butter and milk fat, and also in meat and eggs. There is way more CLA in grass fed animals than grain fed.
Why do we care?
Well, safflower oil, which has a lot of linoleic acid in it, did produce a non-toxic remission in 6 out of eight dogs with a form of lymphosarcoma of the skin (here’s the abstract). Small study but whatever, seemed to work. So that’s interesting.
Both the common forms of CLA decreased rat mammary cancer in the lab. One form of CLA also decreased stomach tumors caused by a carcinogen in rodents.
One of the two main forms of CLA killed mammary, colon, colorectal, stomach, prostate, and hepatoma (liver) cancer cell lines. This was in the lab (in vitro).
However, the other form actually increased mammary and intestine cancer caused by genetics in rodents.
So we have a lot to think about here. First, do we even want to use safflower oil or CLA as supplements at all? Is safflower oil good, or maybe pure CLA…or is there some other form that is better?
Second, are there things we need to worry about with these active compounds?
Lastly, should we do something to block unwanted effects?
Stay tuned to find out!!
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.