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Modified Citrus Pectin and Cancer: Research Update

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP
Research indicates that in order for metastasis to occur, cancerous cells must first clump together; galectins on their surface are thought to be responsible for much of this metastatic potential. Galactose-rich, modified citrus pectin has a binding affinity for galectins on the surface of cancer cells, resulting in an inhibition, or blocking, of cancer cell aggregation, adhesion, and metastasis


In one human study, Strum et al examined the effect of MCP on prostate specific antigen (PSA) doubling time in seven prostate cancer patients. PSA is an enzymatic tumor marker, and its doubling time reflects the speed at which the cancer is growing. Modified citrus pectin was administered orally at a dosage of 15 grams per day in three divided doses. Four of seven patients exhibited more than 30-percent lengthening of PSA doubling time. Lengthening of the doubling time represents a decrease in the cancer growth rate.[1]


A more recent human study examined galectin expression in 27 patients with invasive breast cancer. The study revealed that increasing histologic grades of breast cancer exhibited a decrease in galectin-3 expression, possibly resulting in increased cancer cell motility and metastasis


One of the better animal models for studying metastasis is the highly metastatic mouse B16-F1 melanoma. Using this system Platt and Raz determined that MCP significantly decreased tumor metastasis to the lung by more than 90 percent. In comparison, regular citrus pectin administration resulted in a significant increase (up to three-fold) in tumor metastases. The researchers concluded MCP’s interference in the metastatic process might lead to a reduced ability to form tumor cell aggregates and metastases.[8]

Modified citrus pectin dosages are usually expressed in grams, with a typical adult dosage ranging between 6-30 grams daily in divided doses. This may be modified by the practitioner depending on the patient’s clinical status, type of cancer involved, and degree of metastasis. The MCP powder is usually dissolved by blending in a small amount of water, then diluting with a juice of choice.

(1). Strum S, Scholz M, McDermed J, et al. Modified citrus pectin slows PSA doubling time: A pilot clinical trial. Presentation: International Conference on Diet and Prevention of Cancer, Tampere, Finland. May 28, 1999 – June 2, 1999

[2.] Raz A, Loton R. Endogenous galactoside-binding lectins: a new class of functional cell surface molecules related to metastasis. Cancer Metastasis Rev 1987;6:433-452.

[3.] Nicolson GL. Cancer metastasis: tumor cell and host organ properties important in metastasis to specific secondary sites. Biochim Biophys Acta 1988;948:175-224.

[4.] Pienta K J, Naik H, Akhtah A, et al. Inhibition of spontaneous metastasis in a rat prostate cancer model by oral administration of modified citrus pectin. J Natl Cancer Inst 1995;87:348-353.

[5.] Glinsky VV, Huflejt ME, Glinsky GV, et al. Effects of Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen-specific peptide P-30 on beta-galactoside-mediated homotypic aggregation and adhesion to the endothelium of MDA-MB-435 human breast carcinoma cells. Cancer Res 2000;60:2584-2588.

[6.] Naik H, Pilat MJ, Donat T, et al. Inhibition of in vitro tumor cell-endothelial adhesion by modified citrus pectin: a pH modified natural complex carbohydrate. Proc Am Assoc Cancer Res 1995:36:Abstract 377.

[7.] Idikio H. Galectin-3 expression in human breast carcinoma: correlation with cancer histologic grade. Int J Oncol 1998;12:1287-1290.

[8.] Platt D, Raz A. Modulation of the lung cell colonization of B16-F1 melanoma cells by citrus pectin. J Natl Cancer Inst 1992;18:438-442.

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