How does cancer spread? All of our cells have a life cycle: a beginning and an end. Inflammation from factors like stress, toxins, viruses and bacteria can cause mutations in normal cell DNA and disrupt the cell’s programmed death (called apoptosis). Without their programmed end, this radical cell can continue to grow, forming cancer. Once this cancer uses up the local resources, it can spread taking over other areas (metastasis).
One of the ways that cancer spreads is through inflammatory cell signaling. If you have an infection, galectin-3 (which is found in small amounts in normal cells) can cause an inflammatory reaction signaling white blood cells into the area to help fight the infection. However, over-expression of galectin-3, especially on cancer cells, allows them to stick together, invade healthy tissue, and continue to grow.
Modified citrus pectin to the rescue
Pectin, which is commonly used as a thickening agent in jams and baked goods, is a fiber found in the pith (the bitter, white element) of orange, grapefruit, and lemon peels, as well as in apple skins. Pectin binds and gets rid of heavy metals and other toxins in the colon, however, it is too large of a molecule to get into the blood stream. Thus, modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been created small enough to enter the blood stream, delivering beneficial effects at the cellular level.
In multiple studies, MCP has been shown to bind to galectin-3 in cancer cells reducing the ability of the cancer cells to communicate, spread, and grow. (It does not affect normal, healthy cells in this way.) MCP is being used today in integrative cancer care as it works synergistically with some chemotherapeutic agents to help induce apoptosis in cancer cells, while protecting the body’s normal cells from cancer spread. MCP has been used as a chelator of heavy metals in patients with high radiation exposure and has been shown to be effective in reducing metastasis in multiple types of cancers including breast, skin, lung, colon, and prostate.
I recently spoke with Dr. Isaac Eliaz, MD, an integrative oncologist and one of the leading researchers on MCP, at the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians annual conference. Dr. Eliaz, whose primary focus is prostate cancer, states that he has seen remarkable improvements in his patients, noting their reduction of prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, improved energy, and in some cases, reduction of tumor size. He has also seen improvement in patients with breast, lung, and colon cancers with the complementary use of MCP.
There are currently no known side effects to MCP when used as intended, and it is considered a “generally regarded as safe product” by the FDA. There may be some risk of reaction if the patient is allergic to citrus products. It is also safe to use on animals, and has been shown to slow down metastasis in aggressive canine tumors.
The goal of integrative cancer care is to enhance your body’s ability to fight cancer, not to inadvertently confuse it, so make sure you notify your physician of any supplement use – especially during your cancer treatment – or consult an integrative doctor before starting supplement use. For more information on MCP visit www.cancer.org.
Dr. Sonja Fung is a naturopathic doctor and co-owner of Live Well Clinic. She has a focus on integrative cancer and IV nutrient therapies. For more information on integrative cancer care, go to www.livewellclinic.org or call (760) 771.5970.
References available upon request.