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Modified Citrus Pectin

What Should You Know About Modified Citrus Pectin?

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Updated August 20, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Modified citrus pectin is a substance sold in dietary supplement form. It contains a form of pectin (a type of carbohydrate consisting of sugar molecules) that has been chemically altered to improve its absorption in the human digestive tract. Sourced from the pulp and peel of citrus fruits, modified citrus pectin is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Health Benefits of Modified Citrus Pectin

Although few studies have tested the health effects of modified citrus pectin in humans, some preliminary research suggests that it may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key study findings on modified citrus pectin:

1) Cancer

In research on animals and human cells, scientists have demonstrated that modified citrus pectin may help block metastasis (the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another). According to a report published in Alternative Medicine Review in 2000, modified citrus pectin may help fight metastasis of melanomas (a form of skin cancer), prostate cancer, and breast cancer.

While researchers are still working to determine how modified citrus pectin might inhibit metastasis, some studies show that modified citrus pectin may help knock out galectin-3 (a chemical known to promote the growth and spread of cancer cells).

2) Lead Poisoning

There's some evidence that modified citrus pectin may help treat lead poisoning in children. In a 2008 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, for instance, researchers assigned a group of children with lead toxicity to 28 days of treatment with modified citrus pectin. Study results revealed that modified citrus pectin produced a "dramatic decrease" in blood levels of lead.

According to the study's authors, modified citrus pectin appears to treat lead poisoning by acting as a heavy metal-chelating agent (a substance that binds to heavy metals and then clears them from the bloodstream).

Uses for Modified Citrus Pectin

Modified citrus pectin is said to slow the growth of certain types of cancer (including prostate cancer, skin cancer, and breast cancer), as well as aid in prevention of some forms of cancer (such as colon cancer).

Some proponents claim that modified citrus pectin can also promote detox, boost the immune system, and treat constipation.

Is Modified Citrus Pectin Safe?

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of modified citrus pectin. However, there's some concern that modified citrus pectin may trigger certain side effects (including upset stomach).

In addition, modified citrus pectin may cause allergic reactions in people allergic to citrus fruits.

It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with modified citrus pectin and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Learn more about using dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives to Modified Citrus Pectin

A number of natural substances show promise as a means of strengthening your body's defense against cancer. For example, there's some evidence that maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D, following a diet high in antioxidants, and increasing your intake of green tea may help protect against cancer.

Where to Find Modified Citrus Pectin

Widely available for purchase online, modified citrus pectin is sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

American Cancer Society. "Modified Citrus Pectin." November 2008.

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):301-4.

Jiang J, Eliaz I, Sliva D. "Synergistic and additive effects of modified citrus pectin with two polybotanical compounds, in the suppression of invasive behavior of human breast and prostate cancer cells." Integr Cancer Ther. 2013 Mar;12(2):145-52.

Zhao ZY, Liang L, Fan X, Yu Z, Hotchkiss AT, Wilk BJ, Eliaz I. "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-Aug;14(4):34-8.

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