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Pectin Protects Against Cancer 11-01-08
By Jon Barron
A new study confirms yet one more reason why it pays to eat your fruits and
vegetables. Turns out the gelatinous substance pectin, which naturally occurs in
all fruits and vegetables, protects against cancer.
While the benefits of pectin have been known for some time, this study sheds
light on how pectin works specifically in fighting cancer cells. A research team
at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, England, discovered that a
substance in pectin binds to a tumor-producing protein called galectin 3.
Galectin 3 allows cancer cells to detach from tumors and to reattach elsewhere,
and so it's a major factor in the spread of cancer. But pectin blocks the
activity of galectin 3 and in so doing, may prevent the progression of cancer
within the body.
What exactly is pectin? It's a complex carbohydrate found in the walls of plant
cells. When it interacts with acid, it produces new molecular components,
including the substance, galactose, that binds to galectin 3. (Theoretically, it
would seem that your stomach acid could provide that activation, provided you're
still producing sufficient stomach acid.) You may know pectin as a substance
used to solidify jams and jellies, and so the question arises: does "jamming"
yourself full of jam protect you from cancer? Probably, not so much. The
researchers point out while the process of making jam may activate the "good"
effects of the pectin and provide some protection, the high sugar content and
additives in commercial jams would most likely counteract the benefits (a good
reason to choose all-fruit jam).
Studies last year confirmed that pectin does, in fact, actively work in
combating cancer. A research team at the University of Georgia found that pectin
destroyed up to 40 percent of prostate cancer cells upon exposure, while other
studies revealed that pectin helps in fighting lung and colon cancers. And in
fact, apple pectin was used after Chernobyl to extract radioactive waste from
victims. Other benefits of natural pectin include protecting against
hypertension, gallstones, cholesterol damage, ulcers, colitis, constipation,
diarrhea, and diabetes damage.
You'll also find apple pectin in high-quality intestinal cleansing formulas. As
I explain in my newsletter on colon detoxing, pectin removes "unwanted toxins
and heavy metals (mercury, lead, aluminum, etc.), lowers cholesterol, and
reduces the side effects of exposure to radiation." It binds water and toxins
together and bulks the stool, and thus carries toxins from the body.
Modified citrus pectin is another pectin worth looking at. Numerous studies have
supported its use in dealing with multiple cancers -- including prostate cancer,
breast cancer, and melanoma. Modified citrus pectin is particularly rich in
galactose, the substance described above that binds to galectins on the surface
of cancer cells, resulting in an inhibition, or blocking, of cancer cell
aggregation, adhesion, and metastasis.
The researchers note that their findings on pectin are preliminary, but they
intend to continue investigating to see if they can isolate the active
components of pectin (in case there are any beyond galactose) to increase its
impact in combating cancer. Translated to techno-speak, "Bioactivity resides in
the neutral sugar side chains of pectin polysaccharides, and ...these components
could be isolated and modified to optimize bioactivity," says lead researcher
While the scientists continue to dissect, isolate, and modify the stuff to make
it "better," you can get your fill of pectin by eating plenty of raw vegetables
and fruits and an occasional gob of all-fruit jam. To increase your intake even
more -- and especially to reap benefits such as protection from cardiovascular
damage, hypertension, and cancer -- go to the health food store and peruse the
selection of pectin supplements. You can also get pectin working for you by
doing an intestinal cleanse that contains pectin -- or using such a formula as
part of a daily maintenance program.