March 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Pectin Prevents Spread Of Prostate Cancer In Rats The Natural Fruit Fiber Makes Cancer Cells Too Slick To Stay In One Place, Researchers Say

Associated Press

Pectin, the natural fruit fiber that makes jelly jell, can prevent the spread of prostate cancer in laboratory rats by making cancer cells too slick to stay in one place, researchers say.

Dr. Kenneth J. Pienta of the University of Michigan said a modified form of pectin blocks or slows prostate cancer spread by keeping free-floating cancer cells from sticking to one another or to organs elsewhere in the body.

“We showed that this worked in laboratory rats,” Pienta said Tuesday. “Now we’re asking the National Cancer Institute to confirm our findings.”

Pienta said that preventing the spread of cancer cells is the key to improving the rate of survival for cancer patients. Often, he said, a primary cancer tumor is successfully treated with surgery or radiation, but the patient dies anyway because the cancer had metastasized, or spread, to other organs.

“If we had a pill that prevented cancer from spreading, then about 90 percent of all cancers could be curable,” he said.

Pienta said a modified citrus pectin could be such a pill.

A report on pectin research by Pienta and by scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine is to be published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the study, the researchers implanted prostate cancer cells in a group of rats. Some of the rodents were then given daily doses of a modified citrus pectin in their drinking water. Another group of rats got only pure water. The diet of the groups otherwise was the same.

After 30 days, the animals were killed and their organs examined.

In 15 of 16 control rats, which received no pectin, the prostate cancer had spread to the lungs. The cancer spread in only seven of 14 rats receiving low doses of pectin and in only nine of 16 rats receiving high doses.

Pienta said the experiment has been conducted on more than 200 rats and the results continue to show that pectin blocks or slows cancer spread.

The scientist said the modified pectin is a form of sugar. Prostate cancer cells have a molecule on their surface that seeks out a type of sugar on the surface of other cancer cells. When the pectin binds to this molecule instead, it prevents the cancer cells from clumping and starting another tumor colony.

xxxx No ordinary pectin Dr. Kenneth J. Pienta cautioned that ordinary pectin will not affect cancer cells in the same way as the modified citrus pectin used in the experiment. He said the special pectin had been chemically changed so that it would be absorbed by the body. Pectin, a natural substance in fruit, is usually passed from the body without being taken into the bloodstream. “You cannot go to a health food store, buy ordinary pectin and expect it to work,” said Pienta.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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