Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More


Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Common Names

  • Modified citrus pectin
  • MCP
  • Pectinic acid

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Data on whether pectin can help various conditions are preliminary, and more studies are needed.

Pectin is a soluble fiber present in most plants, but concentrated in the peel and pulp of citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, as well as apples. Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) is obtained by changing pectin so it may be better absorbed by the body.

Lab studies suggest pectin and MCP have various properties, but human studies are limited. Preliminary data suggest pectin and MCP may be helpful for treating diarrhea and lowering cholesterol. Pectin causes side effects such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea, and may interfere with the absorption of some types of supplements.

What are the potential uses and benefits?
  • Diarrhea

    Preliminary data suggest pectin may be helpful in treating diarrhea in children with persistent diarrhea.
  • High cholesterol

    Diets supplemented with fiber can benefit patients with high blood cholesterol.
  • Cancer

    Although pectin has been promoted for reducing colon cancer risk and damage from radiation therapy, there is insufficient evidence to support these uses. In a small nonrandomized study, MCP increased the doubling time of prostate-specific antigen in patients with prostate cancer, but more studies are needed.
What are the side effects?
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
What else do I need to know?

Do Not Take if:

  • You are taking lovastatin for high cholesterol: Pectin may inhibit the action of lovastatin and may increase LDL cholesterol.
  • You are taking carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol supplements: Pectin interferes with their absorption.

For Healthcare Professionals

Brand Name
Modified Citrus Pectin Powder, Pecta-Sol®
Clinical Summary

Pectin is a soluble fiber rich in galactoside residues. It is present in most plants, but is concentrated in the peel and pulp of citrus fruits and apples. Pectin is used as a gelling agent in food. It is also used as a remedy for diarrhea, to lower cholesterol, or to improve satiety. Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) is an altered form of pectin that has shorter carbohydrate chains and is claimed to be better absorbed by the body.

Preclinical studies suggest inhibitory effects with pectin in colon (1) (2), breast (3), liver (13), and lung (16) cancer cell lines. Preliminary clinical data suggest that pectin is beneficial in treating diarrhea (4) and reducing levels of toxic heavy metals (14). Pectin may also be helpful for hypercholesterolemia (5), but one study showed that source and type of pectin influences its activity (15). Another study also demonstrated that different types pectin are varied in their properties and may affect appetite and energy intake differently (17).

Pectin has been promoted for reducing colon cancer risk and damage from radiation therapy, but there is insufficient scientific evidence to support these uses. In a small nonrandomized study, MCP increased the doubling time of prostate-specific antigen in patients with prostate cancer (6).

Gastrointestinal side effects such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea have been reported with use of pectin (5) (6).

Food Sources

Apples and citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • High cholesterol
Mechanism of Action

Pectin-induced apoptosis in adenocarcinoma cells in vitro via caspase-3 activity resulting in DNA degradation (1). Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) acts as a ligand for galectin-3, which plays a major role in tumor formation and progression (7) (8). In vivo, binding of MCP to galectin-3 inhibited tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis (9). In a pilot study in men with prostate cancer, MCP increased PSA doubling time, presumably by binding galectin-3 (6).

Adverse Reactions

Mild abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which resolved after stopping MCP (6).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Lovastatin: Pectin caused an increase in low-density lipoprotein in patients with hypercholesterolemia (10).
  • Carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol supplements: The absorption of these supplements is affected by pectin (12).
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Olano-Martin E, Rimbach GH, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. Pectin and pectic-oligosaccharides induce apoptosis in in vitro human colonic adenocarcinoma cells. Anticancer Res 2003; 23(1A):341-346.
  2. Umar S, Morris AP, Kourouma F, Sellin JH. Dietary pectin and calcium inhibit colonic proliferation in vivo by differing mechanisms. Cell Prolif 2003; 36(6):361-375.
  3. Taper HS, Roberfroid M. Influence of inulin and oligofructose on breast cancer and tumor growth. J Nutr 1999; 129(7 Suppl):1488S-1491S.
  4. Rabbani GH, Teka T, Zaman B, Majid N, Khatun M, Fuchs GJ. Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children. Gastroenterology 2001; 121(3):554-560.
  5. Knopp RH, Superko HR, Davidson M et al. Long-term blood cholesterol-lowering effects of a dietary fiber supplement. Am J Prev Med 1999; 17(1):18-23.
  6. Guess BW, Scholz MC, Strum SB, Lam RY, Johnson HJ, Jennrich RI. 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):301-304.
  7. Inufusa H, Nakamura M, Adachi T et al. Role of galectin-3 in adenocarcinoma liver metastasis. Int J Oncol 2001; 19(5):913-919.
  8. Nakamura M, Inufusa H, Adachi T et al. Involvement of galectin-3 expression in colorectal cancer progression and metastasis. Int J Oncol 1999; 15(1):143-148.
  9. 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; 94(24):1854-1862.
  10. Richter WO, Jacob BG, Schwandt P. Interaction between fibre and lovastatin. Lancet 1991; 338(8768):706.
  11. MICROMEDEX(R) Healthcare Series. 120. 2004. Thomson MICROMEDEX.
  12. Hoffmann J, Linseisen J, Riedl J, Wolfram G. Dietary fiber reduces the antioxidative effect of a carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol mixture on LDL oxidation ex vivo in humans. Eur J Nutr 1999; 38(6):278-285.
  13. Liu HY, Huang ZL, Yang GH, Lu WQ, Yu NR. Inhibitory effect of modified citrus pectin on liver metastases in a mouse colon cancer model. World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Dec 28;14(48):7386-91.
  14. 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.
  15. Brouns F, Theuwissen E, Adam A, et al. Cholesterol-lowering properties of different pectin types in mildly hyper-cholesterolemic men and women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;66(5):591-9.
  16. Leclere L, Fransolet M, Cote F, et al. Heat-modified citrus pectin induces apoptosis-like cell death and autophagy in HepG2 and A549 cancer cells. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0115831.
  17. Wanders AJ, Feskens EJ, Jonathan MC, et al. Pectin is not pectin: a randomized trial on the effect of different physicochemical properties of dietary fiber on appetite and energy intake. Physiol Behav. Apr 10 2014;128:212-219.
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