Modified Citrus Pectin
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Modified Citrus Pectin
Other common name(s): citrus pectin, Pecta-Sol®, MCP
Scientific/medical name(s): none
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is a form of pectin that has been altered so that it can be more easily absorbed by the digestive tract. Pectin is a carbohydrate that is made of hundreds or thousands of sugar molecules chemically linked together. It is found in most plants and is particularly plentiful in the peels of apples, citrus fruits, and plums. In modified citrus pectin, the pectin has been chemically altered to break its molecules into smaller pieces. Pectin in its natural form cannot be absorbed by the body and is considered a type of soluble dietary fiber, whereas modified pectin can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Animal studies and a couple of uncontrolled human studies have found that MCP may inhibit the spread of prostate cancer and melanoma to other organs. However, there have been no controlled clinical studies to prove this effect in humans.
How is it promoted for use?
Proponents claim that modified citrus pectin slows or stops the growth of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer (prostate cancer that has spread). Some also claim that a compound found in MCP strengthens the cancer cell–killing ability of T-cells, cells that also protect against germs.
What does it involve?
Modified citrus pectin is available as a capsule or a powder. The dose suggested by manufacturers for the powder is 5 grams (nearly a fifth of an ounce) mixed with water or juice taken 3 times a day with meals. For capsules, the suggested dose is 800 milligrams (mg) 3 times a day with meals.
What is the history behind it?
Pectin is commonly used as a gelling agent for canning foods and making jellies. It is also used widely in the production of food and cosmetics and as an ingredient in some anti-diarrhea medicines. In the past 10 years, the modified form of pectin has been investigated for anti-cancer properties.
What is the evidence?
Several animal studies found that MCP helped reduce the spread of prostate, breast, and skin cancer. Animals with these types of cancer that were fed MCP had a much lower risk of the tumor spreading to the lungs. For example, one study examined the effects of MCP on lung metastases from melanoma cells. Researchers injected mice with melanoma cells. In the mice that were also given MCP, significantly fewer tumors spread to the lungs than in the mice that did not receive the drug. When lung tumors did develop in the mice treated with MCP, the tumors tended to be smaller than those that formed in untreated animals.
These studies appear to show that MCP makes it difficult for cancer cells that break off from the main tumor to join together and grow in other organs. However, in most animal studies, MCP had no effect on the main tumor, suggesting that it may only be useful for preventing or slowing the growth of metastatic tumors in very early stages of development.
Recent laboratory studies of human and animal cells have provided information on how MCP might slow the spread of cancer. MCP appears to attach to galectin-3, a common chemical in many cells. Galectin-3 is present in abnormally high levels in many cancers and plays an important role in the growth, survival, and spread of cancer cells.
Although animal and cell studies are quite encouraging, very little information is available about whether MCP is effective in humans. In one published clinical trial, 10 men with prostate cancer were treated with MCP after standard treatment failed. In 7 of these men, blood tests found prostate-specific antigen (PSA, a marker of prostate cancer growth). Their PSA doubling time (a measure of how fast PSA goes up) improved in comparison with measurements done before taking MCP, indicating that MCP may have a slowing effect on the cancer's growth. This study had no control group (in this case, a group of men who did not take MCP), which limits the strength of its conclusions on MCP's effectiveness. It also did not measure survival or other important endpoints. However, taken with the information gained from animal studies, it suggests that MCP may have a role in reducing the growth and spread of cancer. Randomized controlled trials looking at larger groups of people must be done before any firmer conclusions can be reached.
American Cancer Society
An additional study: 'Modified citrus pectin anti-metastatic properties: one bullet, multiple targets' observes:'Metastasis, a spread of cancer from the site of a primary tumor growth to distant organs and tissues, which causes most of cancer-related morbidity and mortality, is by far the biggest clinical challenge associated with cancer.In the search of naturally occurring substances that could be useful in controlling and treating cancer metastasis, modified citrus pectin (MCP), a complex water soluble indigestible polysaccharide obtained from the peel and pulp of citrus fruits and modified by means of high pH and temperature treatment,1 has emerged as one of the most promising anti-metastatic drugs. Ever since first reports indicating that MCP is capable of inhibiting melanoma1 and prostate carcinoma2 experimental metastasis appeared in the literature, this carbohydrate-based compound sparked significant attention among cancer research community. Since then, MCP has been shown to be effective either in vitro or in vivo, or both, against prostate carcinoma,2–4 colon carcinoma,5,6 breast carcinoma,4,6,7 melanoma,1,8 multiple myeloma,9 and hemangiosarcoma.10 ' (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782490/)