(NaturalHealth365) Emerging research shows that a natural citrus fruit extract can block the action of galectin-3, a protein that at excessive levels can support the growth of cancer and the onset of heart and kidney disease.
While scientists have been unable to develop pharmaceutical medications effective against galectin-3, it turns out that modified citrus pectin – or MCP – may hold the key to blocking and inactivating it – and even reversing its damage.
Why does galectin-3 turn destructive inside the human body?
Galectin-3, which is produced naturally in the human body, can function as both a hero and a culprit. Although galectin-3 is needed for tissue growth and repair, researchers have long known that excess levels are a biomarker for degenerative disease – and strongly associated with heart failure, kidney disease and cancer.
The fact is: galectin-3 is more than a mere indicator of potential disease. Researchers now believe that it actively encourages the growth and spread of cancer, as well as the development of harmful inflammation and scarring in tissues and organs.
Galectin-3 functions to induce the inflammation and immune response that help to destroy invading pathogens after tissue damage. In cases of injury or infection, galectin-3 helps seal off the affected area by creating chronic inflammation. However, this technique backfires when excessive scarring or inflammation interferes with the function of tissues and organs, thereby setting the stage for disease.
Problems can begin when galectin-3 levels become excessive. Unfortunately, galectin-3 levels rise with increasing age – a compelling argument for supplementation in older individuals, especially those at risk for chronic disease.
Galectin-3 goes “rogue,” facilitating cancer and heart disease
By making it easier for cancer cells to adhere to the linings of blood vessels, galectin-3 assists the disease in spreading. And, cancer cells themselves produce even more galectin-3, which further helps in their colonization. Galectin-3 also helps malignant cells avoid apoptosis – the programmed cell death that would otherwise destroy them.
Excessive levels of galectin-3 levels can wreak havoc on the heart by stimulating the creation of fibroblasts, which create the scar tissue that replaces normal heart muscle. Galectin-3 also creates heart muscle dysfunction by spurring the overproduction of type 1 collagen, which decreases heart muscle elasticity, inhibits pumping action and thickens the heart wall. Failing heart tissue produces larger amounts of galectin-3 than healthy tissue, even before heart failure occurs – a vicious cycle.
Research reveals the lifesaving multiple actions of citrus fruit
Modified citrus pectin (MCP), a complex carbohydrate similar to the natural pectin found in fruits, contains sugar molecules, or galactosides. These galactosides allow it to bind with galectin-3, blocking its destructive actions and disrupting its signaling abilities, thereby effectively “shutting it down.”
In an animal study, MCP not only inhibited galectin-3 levels but also reversed inflammation, fibrosis, and thickening of blood vessel walls — demonstrating its potential to prevent and possibly reverse the dangerous changes that lead to heart failure, even when extensive scarring is present.
MCP also reduced kidney enlargement caused by kidney disease, decreasing fibrosis and inflammatory cells while reducing levels of galectin-3.
MCP activates the body’s own defense system to target cancer
Probably the most heartening finding of all is the discovery that modified citrus pectin can activate natural killer cells — specialized cells produced by the immune system that locate, identify and eliminate cancers as soon as they form. In a laboratory study published in 2011 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers reported that natural killer cells activated by MCP worked to induce cell death in leukemic cancer cells.
Other studies confirm MCP’s cancer-fighting effects as well.
In an animal study, MCP was shown to decrease the chances of skin cancer spreading to the lungs — by not letting cancer cells stick to normal, healthy tissue and blood vessels. By the same method of action, it prevented colon cancer from spreading to the liver.
And the good news keeps coming. Additional studies have found that that MCP makes cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy – as well as causing apoptosis.
The research is in, and the results are clear. For those seeking to combat cancer and heart disease – without the use of toxic drugs – modified citrus pectin could be the safe, natural and effective solution.
Food & Nutrition
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