Pectin is a fiber found in citrus, apples and other fruit. The pectin found in citrus fruits—but only in a modified form—has been the subject of a significant amount of cancer research.
For pectin to be absorbed by the body, rather than passing through the colon as bulk, it must be artificially modified to a low molecular weight.
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is the result of pH and temperature modification that breaks the pectin into shorter-chained carbohydrates that dissolve more readily in water and are better absorbed by the body.
Modified Citrus Pectin May Prevent the Spread of Cancer
As early as 1992, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the finding of a reduction in the spread of melanoma in mice given modified citrus pectin.1 The journal later published studies showing an ability to inhibit prostate cancer and breast cancer in rats and mice.2-3
A study involving 13 men with prostate cancer found that PSA doubling time (a measure of prostate cancer progression) increased in seven of ten men who consumed MCP for a year in comparison with pretreatment values,demonstrating a reduction in cancer progression.4
The theory behind the use of MCP for the prevention of metastasis involves the disruption of galectin-3, which encourages cancer cells to clump together and form new blood vessels.
Galectin-3 enables cells to recognize and interact with each other. The administration of pectin prevents the interaction of galectins, thereby reducing cancer cell adherence, aggregation, and migration.
Modified Citrus Pectin Has Detoxifying Qualities
Research shows modified citrus pectin also reduces the body’s heavy metal burden.
In a study of healthy individuals, 15 grams of modified citrus pectin were taken daily for five days followed by 20 grams on the sixth day of the study. Twenty-four hour urine samples were collected and were analyzed for heavy metals.5
Urinary arsenic excretion increased by 130%, cadmium excretion increased by 150%, and lead by 560%. In a subsequent study of children with lead poisoning, 15 grams of MCP per day for one month resulted in a 161% average decease in blood lead levels.6
The Bottom Line
Metal toxicity and cancer may both benefit from modified citrus pectin and future research will undoubtedly uncover more uses for this remarkable fiber. In the meantime, feel free to work it into your own supplement regimen, if desired!
- J Natl Cancer Inst. 1992 Mar 18;84(6):438-42.
- J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995 Mar 1;87(5):348-53.
- J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Dec 18;94(24):1854-62.
- Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2003;6(4):301-4.
- Phytother Res. 2006 Oct;20(10):859-64.
- Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(4):34-8.