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Fighting Cancer Metastasis and Heavy Metal Toxicities With Modified Citrus Pectin

March 2009

By Joanne Nicholas

Using Modified Citrus Pectin

Using Modified Citrus Pectin

Research indicates that MCP may hold health applications in significantly increasing the urinary excretion of metals3,17,18 and in inhibiting tumor growth and metastasis.19-21

Side effects from citrus pectin are rare and occur primarily in patients with citrus fruit allergies.10

According to the Natural Standards Monograph on MCP, “some experts caution that neither citrus pectin nor all ‘modified’ citrus pectins have the same effects as MCP. Citrus pectin does not have the short polysaccharide chains as MCP, and ‘modified’ pectin could indicate that the pectin has been altered in some way, but not necessarily have the shorter polysaccharide chains.”22

MCP provides superior benefits to unmodified citrus pectin because its shorter, galactose-rich polysaccharide chains allow for better absorption and utilization by the body. Further, its galactose-rich side chains allow MCP to bind galactose-binding lectins on the surface of certain cancer cells to help impede cancer adhesion and metastasis.1

Make sure that the MCP you are using is one that has been researched and studied in the various clinical trials discussed in this article.

Nutritional scientists recommend taking MCP on an empty stomach. Dosages range from 6 to 30 grams daily in divided doses. A typical daily dosage is 5 grams, three times daily.

Understanding Galectin-3

Modified citrus pectin’s cancer-fighting potential may arise from its ability to interact with specialized proteins called galectins.1

Galactose-binding lectins, or galectins, are carbohydrate-binding proteins detected within some cancer cells that help the cells clump or cluster together more easily. This may facilitate the growth and spread of certain types of cancer. Among the galectins, scientists believe that galectin-3 may be particularly important in numerous processes involved in cancer, such as cancer adhesion, migration, progression, and metastasis.23

A growing number of studies suggest that increased levels of galectin-3 in the blood or tissue are associated with more frequent cancer metastasis or an increased stage of tumor progression.24 There is still some controversy in this area, as other data indicate that low or absent galectin-3 levels correlate with more aggressive tumors.25,26 Other findings suggest that intracellular galectin-3 exerts an anti-apoptotic effect, protecting cancer cells against programmed cell death by affecting mitochondrial function.23,27

At this time, scientists believe that MCP may help fight certain cancers by binding with galectin-3 to help decrease cancer cell aggregation, adhesion, and metastasis.1

Further research is needed to determine if MCP can likewise block galectin-3’s anti-apoptotic effects. Such a finding would represent a breakthrough in cancer therapy, pointing to a potentially synergistic role of MCP in combination with other cancer therapies that target mitochondrial function.



Modified citrus pectin is an intriguing substance that continues to be studied in an effort to determine its full therapeutic potential. It appears to be a promising agent that can keep some advanced cancers in check by limiting the growth of new tumors, and by affecting the primary cancer as well. MCP also appears to show some promise as a natural, non-toxic chelating agent that binds to heavy metals like cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic and helps the body excrete them in the urine.

Not all citrus pectin products are alike. Be sure to utilize modified citrus pectin (MCP) containing short polysaccharide chains such as the preparations utilized in the clinical studies discussed in this article. Scientists continue to refine MCP preparations, which may also result in greater efficacy.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Health Advisor at 1-800-226-2370.


1. No authors listed. Modified citrus pectin-monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Dec;5(6):573-5.

2. Azemar M, Hildenbrand B, Haering B, Heim ME, Unger C. Clinical benefit in patients with advanced solid tumors treated with modified citrus pectin: a prospective pilot study. Clin Med Oncol. 2007;1:73–80.

3. Eliaz I, Hotchkiss AT, Fishman ML, Rode D. The effect of modified citrus pectin on urinary excretion of toxic elements. Phytother Res. 2006 Oct;20(10):859-64.

4. Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, et al. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006 Sep;56(5):254-81.

5. Available at: http://www.mdanderson.org/departments/cimer/display.cfm?id=35F6603E-F06A-11D4-810200508B603A14&method=displayFull&pn=6EB86A59-EBD9-11D4-810100508B603A14. Accessed June 17, 2008.

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8. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov. Accessed June 17, 2008.

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10. Available at: http://cancer.ucsd.edu/outreach/publiceducation/cams/modifiedcitrus.asp. Accessed June 17, 2008.

11. American Cancer Society, Inc. Cancer Facts & Figures 2008.

12. Pienta KJ, Naik H, Akhtar 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 Mar 1;87(5):348-53.

13. Strum S, Scholz M, McDermed J, McCulloch M, Eliaz I. Modified citrus pectin slows PSA doubling time: a pilot clinical trial. Paper presented at: International Conference on Diet and Prevention of Cancer; May 1999; Tampere, Finland.

14. Guess BW, Scholz MC, Strum SB, et al. Modified citrus pectin (MCP) increases the prostate-specific antigen doubling time in men with prostate cancer: a phase II pilot study. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2003;6(4):301-4.

15. Kosnett MJ, Wedeen RP, Rothenberg SJ, et al. Recommendations for medical management of adult lead exposure. Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Mar;115(3):463-71.

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17. Eliaz I, Weil E, Wilk B. Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification--five case reports. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Dec;14(6):358-64.

18. Zhao ZY, Liang L, Fan X, et al. The role of modified citrus pectin as an effective chelator of lead in children hospitalized with toxic lead levels. Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 Jul;14(4):34-8.

19. Nangia-Makker P, Hogan V, Honjo Y, et al. Inhibition of human cancer cell growth and metastasis in nude mice by oral intake of modified citrus pectin. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Dec 18;94(24):1854-62.

20. Hayashi A, Gillen AC, Lott JR. Effects of daily oral administration of quercetin chalcone and modified citrus pectin on implanted colon-25 tumor growth in Balb-c mice. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Dec;5(6):546-52.

21. Hsieh TC, Wu JM. Changes in cell growth, cyclin/kinase, endogenous phosphoproteins and nm23 gene expression in human prostatic JCA-1 cells treated with modified citrus pectin. Biochem Mol Biol Int. 1995 Nov;37(5):833-41.

22. Available at: http://www.naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-abstract=/monographs/herbssupplements/modifiedcitruspectin.asp. Accessed December 8, 2008.

23. Nangia-Makker P, Nakahara S, Hogan V, Raz A. Galectin-3 in apoptosis, a novel therapeutic target. J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2007 Feb;39(1):79-84.

24. Takenaka Y, Fukumori T, Raz A. Galectin-3 and metastasis. Glycoconj J. 2004;19(7-9):543-9.

25. Merseburger AS, Kramer MW, Hennenlotter J, et al. Loss of galectin-3 expression correlates with clear cell renal carcinoma progression and reduced survival. World J Urol. 2008 Dec;26(6):637-42.

26. Turkoz HK, Oksuz H, Yurdakul Z, Ozcan D. Galectin-3 expression in tumor progression and metastasis of papillary thyroid carcinoma. Endocr Pathol. 2008 Summer;19(2):92-6.

27. Nakahara S, Oka N, Raz A. On the role of galectin-3 in cancer apoptosis. Apoptosis. 2005 Mar;10(2):267-75.