Fighting Cancer Metastasis and Heavy Metal Toxicities With Modified
By Joanne Nicholas
Despite billions of research dollars spent every year, cancer remains the
second leading killer of Americans. One reason cancer is so lethal is its
tendency to metastasize to essential organs throughout the body.
Certain malignancies (like brain tumors) kill by infiltrating into healthy
tissues, but the vast majority of cancer deaths occur when tumor cells
enter the blood and lymphatic systems and travel to the liver, lungs,
bones, and other distant parts of the body.
Unfortunately, there have been few effective approaches to preventing
cancer metastasis. The encouraging news is that a specialized fruit
polysaccharide called modified citrus pectin has
demonstrated unique properties in blocking cancer cell aggregation,
adhesion, and metastasis.1
Clinical research shows that modified citrus pectin helps limit disease
progression in men with advanced prostate cancer.2 In addition to its
cancer-inhibiting effects, modified citrus pectin shows promise in
chelating toxic heavy metals that can be so damaging to overall health.3
Here, we'll explore how this novel compound offers such distinctive and
What is Modified Citrus Pectin?
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults eat five servings of
fruits and vegetables each day in order to help reduce cancer risk.4 One
way to get some of the benefits of citrus fruits such as oranges and
grapefruits is with modified citrus pectin.
Pectin is a naturally occurring substance found in the cell walls of most
plants and especially concentrated in the peel and pulp of citrus fruits
(lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits), plums, and apples. It was first
identified in 1825, but home cooks had long used fruits with high levels of
pectin in jams and marmalades because of their gelling properties. While
pectin provides little nutritional content, this carbohydrate acts as a
beneficial type of soluble dietary fiber. Researchers attempted to find a
process to alter pectin to create a food supplement that would allow the
body to benefit from its various health-promoting properties. Recently,
scientists have been able to use pH and temperature modifications to break
down pectin's long, branched chains of polysaccharides into shorter,
unbranched lengths of soluble fiber molecules that dissolve easily in
water. The result, modified citrus pectin (MCP), is a substance
that is rich in galactose residues, which are easily processed by the
digestive system and absorbed into the bloodstream.5 Scientists continue to
refine MCP in their quest for a more active and effective agent.
Preventing Cancer Metastasis
Modified citrus pectin is thought to be useful in the prevention and
treatment of metastatic cancer, especially in solid tumors like melanoma
and cancers of the prostate, colon, and breast. Scientists believe that MCP
works by inhibiting two key processes involved in cancer progression:
angiogenesis and metastasis.6,7
is the process in which cancer cells establish their own blood supply to
fuel their growth. Metastasis occurs when cancer cells break away
from the original tumor, enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system, and
form a new tumor in a different organ or other parts of the body.8
Secondary or metastatic cancers often pose more life-threatening
circumstances than the original tumor.
As scientists begin to decipher the process of how cells receive,
interpret, and relay the signals that recruit them to form new tumors,9
they are focusing their attention on molecules called galactose-binding
lectins, or galectins. Galectins are overexpressed adhesion and
blood vessel-attracting surface molecules that are thought to be involved
in the spread of cancer.6 A growing number of small studies in humans and
animals have reported that MCP interferes with the cancer cell's
interactions with other cancer cells by acting as a galectin-3 antagonist-that is, an agent that blocks the normal activity of
Via the mechanism of galectin-3 antagonism, MCP appears to disrupt
the processes that allow cancer cells to communicate with one another. When
the MCP molecules bind to receptors on the surface of cancer cells, they
block galectin-3 and other molecules from penetrating into nearby healthy
tissue to create a new tumor and establish the tumor's blood supply
(angiogenesis). In this way, MCP seems to play a role in preventing
cancerous tumors from metastasizing and spreading to other organs-one of
the main causes of death from cancer.
When MCP interferes with cancer cells trying to form a new tumor, the
cancer cells circulate in the bloodstream until they die. By working to
inhibit the spread of cancer, MCP keeps the body's immune system from
becoming overwhelmed by an increasing cancer cell load.10
Modified Citrus Pectin's Effects in Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the United
States. One in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer
during his lifetime. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that
28,660 men die of prostate cancer annually, with only lung cancer more
lethal to men.11 The ACS estimates a five-year survival rate of nearly 100%
for men whose prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
But for those men with late stage, metastatic prostate cancer, the
treatment options are very limited.
One of the first promising studies to show the potential of MCP to inhibit
prostate cancer metastasis was published in the Journal of the National
Cancer Institute in 1995. Laboratory rats were injected with human prostate
cancer cells and divided into four groups. The control group received plain
water and the other groups received water with varying concentrations of
MCP. After 30 days, only 50% of the rats that drank water with MCP (0.1%
weight/volume) had any metastases, while 94% of the rats that drank regular
water had cancer metastasize to their lungs. The researchers called for
further study to determine both "the role of galectin-3 in normal and cancerous prostate tissues"
"the ability of modified citrus pectin to inhibit human prostate
metastasis in nude mice."
In 1999, Dr. Stephen Strum, an oncologist specializing in prostate cancer
and a respected member of Life Extension's Scientific Advisory Board, and
his colleagues were the first to show the positive effects of MCP on humans
with advanced prostate cancer. In a paper presented at an International
Conference on Diet and Prevention of Cancer, they reported that five of
seven men with advanced prostate cancer and unable to benefit from
conventional treatment had a positive response after taking MCP every day
for three months or longer. The response was measured by an increase in
prostate-specific antigen doubling time (PSADT), which measures the rate at
which blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) rise. Since PSA is a
marker of prostate cancer progression or recurrence, longer PSA doubling
time is associated with slower disease progression and is thus desirable.
One of the five patients had no increase to his PSA level at all.13
A more recent study led by Brad Guess and Drs. Mark Scholz and Stephen
Strum also found that MCP increases the PSA doubling time. In this phase II
pilot study of 10 men whose prostate cancer had returned after an initial
treatment with surgery or radiation, PSADT increased in eight (80%) of the
10 men after taking MCP for 12 months.14
Dr. Strum told Life Extension, "My clinical experience using MCP
in prostate cancer has been that it slows PSA doubling time in the majority
of patients taking the standard dose of 5 grams three times per day.
Because this treatment is well tolerated, I use MCP in situations where
sustained increases in PSA may occur." In a study published in 2007, 49
patients with advanced prostate cancer and few treatment options were given
oral doses of MCP powder diluted in water and juice three times a day at
eight-hour intervals for a four-week cycle. After two cycles of treatment
with MCP, 21% of the patients had a clinical benefit of disease
stabilization or improved quality of life; 12% had stable disease for more
than 24 weeks. One patient with stage IV metastatic prostate cancer showed
a 50% decrease in serum PSA level after 16 weeks of treatment, improving
his quality of life and also decreasing pain.
"MCP seems to have positive impacts especially regarding clinical
benefit and life quality for patients with far advanced solid tumors,"
the researchers concluded.2
What You Need to Know: Modified Citrus Pectin
Pectin is a complex carbohydrate that is abundantly
present in citrus fruits. Modified citrus pectin (MCP)
is composed of short, non-branched carbohydrate chains
derived from the peel and pulp of citrus fruits.
Compelling research suggests that modified citrus
pectin may help block the growth and metastasis of
solid tumors such as breast, colon, and prostate
Intriguing clinical studies suggest that
supplementation with MCP stabilizes disease progression
and lengthens PSA doubling times in men with prostate
Modified citrus pectin may represent a safe, non-toxic
d of chelating toxic metals-without the need for
Supplementation with MCP has been shown to increase
excretion of dangerous metals such as mercury, arsenic,
lead, and cadmium-without removing essential minerals
like calcium, magnesium, and zinc from the body.
A clinical study showed that supplementation with an
MCP-alginate complex reduced total body toxic heavy
metal burden in patients with a variety of health
MCP is considered safe and well tolerated. Dosages
range from 6 to 30 grams per day in divided dosages; a
typical dose is 5 grams three times daily.
Modified Citrus Pectin and Chelation
Beyond its benefits in fighting cancer metastasis, MCP may have
applications in mitigating the health dangers posed by toxic heavy metals.
Chelation therapy is a chemical process in which a substance is used to
bind molecules, such as heavy metals or minerals, and hold them tightly so
that they can be removed from a system, such as the body. Chelation can
help rid the body of excess or toxic metals, but it is not known if this
reduces artery disease risk. Chelation is used to treat lead and mercury
In most instances, chelation therapy involves the infusion of compounds via
a catheter placed in an arm vein. This procedure must be done in a clinical
setting over a specified course of treatments. In contrast, chelation
therapy using MCP is done via the oral route and can be administered to the
patient in almost any clinical setting, since the supplement can be
A pilot trial evaluating MCP's chelating effects provided evidence that
orally administered MCP significantly increases urinary excretion of toxic
metals. In a study published in 2006, eight healthy individuals were given
15 grams of MCP daily for five days and 20 grams of MCP on day six.
Twenty-four hour urine samples were collected on days one and six and
analyzed for toxic and essential elements. The investigators reported that
significant urinary excretion of arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead
increased within one to six days of MCP treatment. There was a 150%
increase in the excretion of cadmium and a 560% increase in lead excretion
on day six.3 Essential minerals such as calcium, zinc, and magnesium were
not seen to increase in the urine analysis, indicating that MCP treatment
did not deplete these nutrients.
In a case study report, five patients with different illnesses were given
MCP (PectaSolr) alone or as an MCP/alginate combination (PectaSolr
Chelation ComplexT) for up to seven months. Each one had a gradual decrease
of total heavy metal burden, which is believed to have played an important
role in the patients' recovery and health maintenance. The patients had a
74% average decrease in toxic heavy metals after treatment. The authors
report this is the "first known documentation of evidence" of a possible
correlation of positive clinical outcomes and a reduction of toxic heavy
metal load using MCP alone or as an MCP/alginate complex. They recommend
"further studies be performed to confirm the effectiveness of this gentle
non-toxic chelating system as an alternative to harsher chelators in the
treatment of patients with a heavy metal body burden."17
Lead toxicity is an ongoing concern worldwide, and the long-lasting effects
of lead exposure in children are especially troubling. A 2008 pilot study
at the Children's Hospital of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China looked
at whether MCPr could mitigate lead toxicity in children with high blood
levels of lead. Seven children hospitalized with toxic lead levels, aged
five to 12, were given 15 grams of MCP (PectaSolr) per day in three divided
dosages. Blood serum and 24-hour urine excretion analysis were performed on
days 0, 14, 21, and 28. Two patients were released after two weeks, three
patients were released after three weeks, and two patients were released
after four weeks when their blood lead levels had dropped below the
criterion. All of the children had a significant increase in urinary
excretion of lead. The authors recommend further studies to confirm the
effectiveness and safety of MCP as a lead chelator.18
Scientists believe that the ability of MCP (PectaSolr) to chelate toxic
metals arises from a low molecular weight pectin that contains 10% rhamnogalacturonan II molecular side groups, which are known to
selectively bind heavy metals with a strong affinity. Subsequently, these
metal-pectin complexes are eliminated in the urine.3
Fighting Cancer Metastasis and Heavy Metal Toxicities With Modified
By Joanne Nicholas
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
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.
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
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
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.
1. No authors listed. Modified citrus
pectin-monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2000
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
5. Available at:
Accessed June 17, 2008.
6. Glinskii OV, Huxley VH, Glinsky GV, et
al. Mechanical entrapment is insufficient
and intercellular adhesion is essential for
metastatic cell arrest in distant organs.
Neoplasia. 2005 May;7(5):522-7.
7. Johnson KD, Glinskii OV, Mossine VV, et
al. Galectin-3 as a potential therapeutic
target in tumors arising from malignant
endothelia. Neoplasia. 2007
8. Available at:
Accessed June 17, 2008.
9. Gupta GP, Massague J. Cancer metastasis:
building a framework. Cell. 2006 Nov
10. Available at:
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,
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.
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.
16. Brodkin E, Copes R, Mattman A, Kennedy
J, Kling R, Yassi A. Lead and mercury
exposures: interpretation and action. CMAJ.
2007 Jan 2;176(1):59-63.
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
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:
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.
24. Takenaka Y, Fukumori T, Raz A.
Galectin-3 and metastasis. Glycoconj J.
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
27. Nakahara S, Oka N, Raz A. On the role
of galectin-3 in cancer apoptosis.
Apoptosis. 2005 Mar;10(2):267-75.
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