I’ve been telling readers for years that modified citrus pectin can help dogs with cancer, and mainstream outlets are beginning to see the connection, too. I am convinced that this little food-based supplement has been helping readers of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide ever since we first introduced it in 2008.
What is Modified Citrus Pectin?
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is a type of pectin which is extracted from the peels of citrus fruit. Regular pectin will be familiar to bakers, because it is used widely in preparation of food, often to thicken jams and jellies or in pastries. It is Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, and so has a very low risk of bad reactions. It’s safe to give your dog, because it’s basically, food.
Now, modified citrus pectin has been treated before packaging it, to make sure that it avoids the digestive system and gets into the bloodstream. Giving regular pectin to your dog wouldn’t be very helpful, because very little is absorbed when it is taken by mouth. Modified citrus pectin, on the other hand, gets right into the bloodstream, where it can go to work.
What Does Modified Citrus Pectin Do?
Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) can be really, really helpful at slowing or preventing metastasis.
For example, in one experiment, mice with breast and colon cancer cells were fed MCP by mouth and experienced slowed tumor growth and less tumor spread.
In another, men with prostate cancer showed improvements in their cancer markers when taking MCP. This is great news!
A nice publication out of Columbia University discusses MCP’s anti-cancer action in cells and in living bodies against breast carcinoma, melanoma, multiple myeloma, and hemangiosarcoma.
MCP works by binding to (blocking) a molecule found in cancer cells called galectin-3. Galectin-3 is like a lock, and MCP is like a key that fits into that lock. Blocking galectin-3 is a good idea in dog cancer, because galectin-3 helps cancer cells in the following ways:
- Galectin-3 aids cancer cells in attaching to things, which helps them spread. If you ever look at an image of a tumor and see tentacles branching out from the tumor, those tentacles are helped by galectin-3.
- Galectin-3 seems to play a role in the lack of death in cancer cells. As you know if you’ve read my book, cancer cells all manage to avoid apoptosis, the natural process where cells are supposed to end their own life when they are old, damaged, diseased, and so on. Avoiding apoptosis is how cancers become immortal, keep invading and dividing…at the expense of the rest of the body. Galectin-3 is one of the molecules cancer cells use to avoid apoptosis. When we block galectin-3, cancers cells can undergo normal apoptosis. For this reason, MCP can be viewed as a dietary apoptogen, a substance that turns on programmed, normal cell death.
Bottom Line: MCP can help to slow tumor growth and spread, improve cancer markers, and has an actual anti-cancer (apoptogen) action in several cancers. All in living subjects, too — not just in the test tube.
Another nice benefit of MCP is that it seems to be able to bind toxic heavy metals like lead, reducing the blood levels and lowering toxicity or other effects.
Step Three: Anti-Metastatic and Immune Boosters Includes MCP
For reasons like these, MCP is one of the core anti-metastatic therapies used in the Full Spectrum treatment of dog cancer that Dr. Ettinger and I advocate. Step Three, which is covered in chapter 13 in our book, includes several strategies and a few important supplements, all of which fight metastasis (cancer spread) and/or boost the immune system.
MCP is available in health food stores and on sites like Amazon.com*, and dosing information is all laid out in the Guide. Please be sure to always discuss changes in your dog’s treatment with your vet or oncologist, of course.
*This article contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for details.
Ramachandran, C., Wilk, B.J., Hotchkiss, A.,Chau, H., Eliaz, I., Melnick, S.J. Activation of Human T-Helper/Inducer Cell, T-Cytotoxic Cell, B-Cell, and Natural Killer (NK)-Cells and induction of Natural Killer Cell Activity against K562 Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Cells with Modified Citrus Pectin. BMC Complem. Altern. Med. 2011, 11:59.
Nangia-Makker P, Hogan V, Honjo Y, Baccarini S, Tait L, Bresalier R, Raz A. Inhibition of human cancer cell growth and metastasis in nude mice by oral intake of modified citrus pectin. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Dec 18;94(24):1854-62.
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.
Glinsky VV, Raz A. Modified citrus pectin anti-metastatic properties: one bullet, multiple targets. Carbohydr Res. 2009 Sep 28;344(14):1788-91. doi: 10.1016/j.carres.2008.08.038. Epub 2008 Sep 26. Review.
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. Erratum in: Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 Nov-Dec;14(6):18.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.