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 such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, as well as 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 and may interfere with the absorption of some types of supplements.
Pectin has been shown to be effective in treating diarrhea in children with persistent diarrhea.
Diets supplemented with fiber can benefit patients with high blood cholesterol.
Cancer prevention and treatment
Laboratory and animal studies have shown that pectin has anticancer properties. Human studies are needed to verify these results.
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-tocopherolsupplements: Pectin interferes with their absorption.
Modified Citrus Pectin Power
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, 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 in reducing levels of toxic heavy metals (14). Pectin is also effective against hypercholesterolemia (5), but a recent 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 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).
Apples and citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.
Mechanism of Action
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 in prostate cancer cells and prostate tissue. In another study, MCP was shown to increase doubling time of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), presumably by binding galectin-3 (6). Pectin induced apoptosis in adenocarcinoma cells in vitro via caspase-3 activity resulting in DNA degradation (1).
Mild abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which resolved after stopping MCP (6).
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).