What We Know About the Benefits of Modified Citrus Pectin

Can modified citrus pectin be used to slow cancer growth?

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Modified citrus pectin is a substance sold in dietary supplement form. It contains a form of pectin, which is a carbohydrate consisting of sugar molecules that have been chemically altered to improve its absorption in the human digestive tract. Sourced from the pulp and peel of citrus fruits, pectin is used in making jams and jellies, which allows them to "set" in their semi-solid state. But does modified citrus pectin slow the growth of some types of cancer?


In alternative medicine, modified citrus pectin is said to slow the growth of certain types of cancer (including prostate cancerskin cancer, and breast cancer, as well as aid in the prevention of some forms of cancer such as colon cancer.

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

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:

Cancer Treatment

In research on animals and human cells, scientists have demonstrated that modified citrus pectin may help block the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another (metastasis). One report found that modified citrus pectin may help fight metastasis of melanoma,  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.

Treatment for 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, which means it's a substance that binds to heavy metals and then clears them from the bloodstream.

Long-Term Use of Supplemental Citrus Pectin

But due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular 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.

Keep in mind that most dietary supplements haven't been tested for safety are largely unregulated.

The safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. 

Where to Find It

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

Using Modified Citrus Pectin for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend modified citrus pectin as a treatment for any condition. 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. If you're considering using it, make sure to talk with your primary care provider first. 


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.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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