What is modified citrus pectin? | Cancer Research UK
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What is modified citrus pectin?


What modified citrus pectin (MCP) is

Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is an alternative therapy that is claimed to stop prostate cancer and melanoma skin cancer from spreading. Pectin is found in many fruits, including citrus fruits. It is what we use to make jam set, and is found mostly in the pips and the pith of citrus fruits. The pectin in modified citrus pectin has been changed to make it easier for the body to take in through the gut.


Research into modified citrus pectin

Alternative therapists claim that pectin may help to stop prostate cancer and melanoma spreading. MCP has been tested in animal studies for these cancers. In mice, MCP seemed to lower the risk of prostate cancer spread to the lungs. Also in mice, it seemed to result in less melanoma spread to the lungs. So MCP may make it harder for cancer cells to break away and spread in mice. But it hasn't yet been shown to affect primary cancers (the original tumour). It has also not shown any activity in fighting cancer in people.

One study in humans tested modified citrus pectin (MCP). This was a small pilot study looking at the effect of MCP on prostate specific antigen (PSA). Prostate Specific Antigen is a protein produced by prostate cells. It is produced in higher amounts by prostate cancer cells. The study looked at the time it took for PSA levels to double in men with prostate cancer who had not responded to treatment at all, or whose cancer had begun to grow again after treatment. 

It did seem to take longer for the PSA to double in some of the men on the trial. But the researchers decided that more trials with larger numbers of patients will have to be done before we know if MCP is of any use in prostate cancer treatment. Until such studies are carried out and published, Cancer Research UK will not be able to offer any other view on this substance.


How do you take modified citrus pectin?

You take it as a capsule or a powder. The powder needs to be dissolved in liquid and taken on an empty stomach.


Possible side effects of modified citrus pectin

There is not much information about the side effects of modified citrus pectin. But some reports seem to show that in large quantities it may cause diarrhoea, stomach pains and wind (gas). Always speak to your doctor if you are thinking of starting to take any alternative or complementary therapy such as MCP.


Related information

On this website you can read about

Cancer treatments

Alternative and complementary therapies

Prostate cancer

Melanoma skin cancer

In the USA, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has more information about modified citrus pectin on its website.

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Updated: 21 July 2015