How does cancer spread?

All of our cells have a controlled, normal life cycle; a beginning and an end. Inflammation from toxins, viruses and bacteria, or just plain old stress, can cause mutations in normal cell DNA, which can disrupt the cell’s programmed cell death (apoptosis). Without this programmed end, the cell can continue to grow, i.e. forming cancer. It doesn’t stop there. Once the cancer uses up the local resources, it can move and take over other areas. This spreading is called metastasis.

One of the ways that cancer spreads is through inflammatory cell signaling. Galectin-3 found in small amounts in normal cells. If you have an infection, galectin-3 can cause an inflammatory reaction which calls more 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 grow by making new blood vessels to take in more nutrients.

What is modified citrus pectin?

Pectin is a fiber found in the pith (the bitter, white stuff) of peels of oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, as well as in apple skins. It has been used as a thickening agent in jams and baked goods. Pectin binds and gets rid of heavy metals and other toxins in the colon, however, it is still too large of a molecule to get into the blood stream and have beneficial effects at the cellular level. Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is created to be small enough to enter the blood stream and have whole body effects.

Modified citrus pectin has been shown in multiple studies, to bind to galectin-3 on cancer cells. This reduces the ability of the cancer cells to communicate, spread, and grow. MCP has been shown to be effective in reducing metastasis in multiple types of cancers, such as breast, skin, lung, colon, and prostate. Integrative medicine in cancer treatment has been shown to augment the effectiveness of both conventional and natural approaches to cancer therapy. In this way, MCP works synergistically with some chemotherapeutic agents to help induce apoptosis in cancer cells, while protecting the body’s normal cells from cancer spread.

I spoke with Dr. Isaac Eliaz, MD, an Integrative oncologist and one of the leading researchers on MCP, this weekend at the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians annual conference. Dr. Eliaz is an international speaker and has a focus on prostate cancer patients. He states that he has seen remarkable improvements in his prostate cancer patients, noting their reduction of prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, improvement of energy, and in some cases, reduction of tumor size. He has also seen improvement in patients with breast, lung, and colon cancers as well.

MCP does not affect normal, healthy cells in the same way it does cancer cells. MCP has been used as a chelator of heavy metals and in patients with high radiation exposure. It is safe to use on animals, and has been shown to slow down metastasis in aggressive canine tumors. There are currently no known side effects to MCP when used as intended and 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.

By no means is MCP a panacea to all cancers; there is no such thing as of yet. Cancer is such a complicated physical and mental state and there are so many mechanisms that are still unknown. The same type of cancer in one person can act drastically different in another person with the “same cancer.” Make sure that you notify your physician of any supplement use, especially during your cancer treatment or consult an integrative doctor before starting supplement use. The goal is to enhance your body’s ability to fight cancer, not to inadvertently confuse it. There is much more research to be done regarding cancer in general and the use of MCP and other natural products during cancer.

Author: Sonja Fung, ND
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.

Galectin-3 Contributes to Melanoma Growth and Metastasis via Regulation of NFAT1 and Autotaxin
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Modified Citrus Pectin

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