- Modified Citrus Pectin
- Pectinic acid
For Patients & Caregivers
Bottom Line: There is some evidence to support use of pectin for diarrhea and for lowering cholesterol. More studies are needed to determine pectin’s benefits for cancer.
Pectin is a soluble fiber present in most plants but is concentrated in the peel and pulp of citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, grapefruits) and apples. Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) is obtained by changing pectin so it is better absorbed by the body. Data from studies in cells and mice showed that pectin and MCP have anticancer properties. There is also some evidence from human studies that pectin and MCP are effective in treating diarrhea and in lowering cholesterol. Pectin causes side effects such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Pectin has been shown to be effective in treating diarrhea in children with persistent diarrhea.
Diet supplemented with fiber was shown to benefit patients with high cholesterol in the blood.
- Cancer prevention and treatment
Laboratory and animal studies have shown that pectin has anticancer properties. Human studies are needed to verify these results.
Ten patients with prostate cancer received 18 capsules (14.4g) of Pecta-Sol (Modified citrus pectin) in three doses per day for 12 months. Researchers measured the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) before and after treatment. PSA is a protein found in the prostate tissue of patients with prostate cancer and other prostate-related diseases. Results from the study showed a significant increase in the time it takes for the PSA to double in quantity. However, since this study involved only ten patients, the results cannot be generalized. More studies are needed to verify such effects.
For Healthcare Professionals
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 in apples. Pectin is used as a gelling agent in food. It is also used as a remedy for diarrhea and for lowering cholesterol. 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. In vitro and animal studies show that pectin induces apoptosis in colonic adenocarcinoma cells (1) and has antiproliferative (2), anticancer (3) and antimetastatic effects (13).
Preliminary clinical data suggest that pectin is beneficial in treating diarrhea (4) and in reducing the level of toxic heavy metals (14).
Pectin is also effective against hypercholesterolemia (5), but a recent study showed that the source and type of pectin influence its activity (15).
It has been promoted for reducing the risk of colon cancer and for reducing damage from radiation therapy but there is insufficient scientific evidence to support these uses. In a small non-randomized study, MCP was shown to increase 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).
Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) acts as a ligand for galectin-3, which plays a major role in tumor formation and progression (7)(8). Binding of MCP to galectin-3 was shown to inhibit tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis in vivo. MCP is thought to render galectin-3 incapable of binding its receptors that would result in angiogenesis (9). Galectin-3 is also found on prostate cancer cells and in prostate tissue. In another study, MCP was shown to increase the doubling time of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) presumably by binding galectin-3 (6). Pectin was also shown to induce apoptosis in adenocarcinoma cells in vitro via caspase-3 activity resulting in DNA degradation (1). Pectin-supplemented diet was shown to exert antiproliferative effects in mouse distal colon during colonic hyperplasia (2). It also lowered cholesterol in patients with hypercholesterolemia.
Guess BW, 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 and Prostatic Diseases 2003; 6: 301-304.
Ten patients with prostate cancer received 18 capsules (14.4g) of Pecta-Sol (Modified citrus pectin) in three doses per day for 12 months. The rate of change in PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels was used as the primary end point of this study. Researchers found that there was a statistically significant increase in the doubling time of PSA (PSADT). Although there were no serious side effects from Pecta-Sol, mild abdominal cramps and diarrhea were experienced by three patients who withdrew from the study. These effects resolved following discontinuation of Pecta-Sol. Randomized controlled trials with larger sample size are warranted to study the effects of MCP in prostate cancer patients.