Yerba Mate And Cancer

I write for another blog and while studying for the post, which included poking around the internet, I learned that a study in South America made some correlation between cancer and mate consumption - I WAS SHOCKED! However, before I give we talk about the study, let's talk about the goodness of mate' and its cancer-fighting compounds:

It has been found to inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation by a study conducted at the University of Illinois, and it is also now known that Yerba Mate contains cancer-fighting properties.

It is full of antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and E as well as many phytochemicals. Phytochemicals contain powerful antioxidants and augment immune defenses and protect against cellular destruction. Saponins are also found in Yerba Mate and have been found to protect against disease by inciting immune response. Drinking Mate tea, however, should not substitute eating fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of cancer.

Now, on to the study...

Question: I recently started drinking Yerba mate tea. However, on the internet there was one research study that extensive use of yerba Mate tea can contribute to esophagus cancer?

Answer: There has been some association found with yerba mate and esophageal cancer, however this study was done among a population in Brazil that drinks yerba mate on a daily basis. The highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Brazil occur in Rio Grande do Sul, the most southern state, which has incidence rates of 20.4/100,000 a year for men and 6.5/100,000 a year for women. Exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through tobacco smoke and other sources may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. The aims of the current study were to investigate the degree and sources of PAH exposure of the inhabitants of this region of southern Brazil. Tobacco smoke and mate both contribute to high levels of benzopyrene exposure in the people of southern Brazil. This high PAH exposure may contribute to the high rates of esophageal cancer observed in this population. The increased urine 1-OHPG concentrations associated with mate suggest that contaminants, not just thermal injury, may help explain the increased risk of esophageal cancer previously reported for mate consumption.


Thus, it appears as if further study is needed. Additionally, it is critical to remember CORRELATION DOES NOT MEAN CAUSATION!