In part two of my look at gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), I reveal some cancer-fighting prowess and some important news for those with type 2 diabetes. GLA is a type of omega-6 fatty acid and is found in the natural supplements aisle of your pharmacy.
GLA has slowed cancer cells from growing in the lab. It could also make anticancer medications work better. In the last few years, very encouraging evidence has arisen:
— Bladder cancer: Infusing GLA directly into the bladder through a catheter led to complete or partial response in 43% of patients with bladder cancer.
— Brain cancer: Doing the same to the brains of patients with tumors in that area led to improved survival and tumors shrinking rather than spreading. An early study was confirmed in 2003.
— Breast cancer: In a study with 38 breast cancer patients, oral GLA (2.8 g/day) plus tamoxifen (20 mg/day) was compared to the drug used alone. Those taking GLA had a faster response to therapy.
All this is quite promising. We need more studies to see if GLA is truly beneficial by itself, or teamed with chemotherapy.
Now for the diabetes news. A common complication of diabetes is nerve damage called “neuropathy.” It can cause numbness, a burning sensation or tingling in the extremities, problems with sexual function, digestion problems, loss of balance, and muscle weakness. Early evidence says GLA might be useful in relieving these symptoms.
In a British study, 111 diabetic patients with mild symptoms of neuropathy received either GLA (480 mg/day) or placebo for one year. By measuring muscle and nerve function, researchers found that GLA led to significant improvement.
In a smaller study, with 22 patients who had diabetic neuropathy, 12 took 360 mg of GLA a day and 10 took placebo for six months. This one also found that the fatty acid led to much better nerve and muscle function.