September 1, 2012

Yerba Mate and Cancer.

Health Drink or Carcinogenic, linked to Cancer?

Mayo Clinic study.

Update, via a friend of a friend who’s a mate-lover, and a scientist:
“I found more evidence that mate causes cancer… damn, I love the stuff…but ignorance is bliss, so…”

Drinking Yerba Mate “equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes.”

Yerba Mate may not be so healthy, after all: “risk of lung cancer 60% higher.”

I’ve been a fan of yerba mate for years. I’ve been friends with the founders of Pixie Mate, and particularly Guayaki Yerba Mate, one of the biggest and best and mindfullest mate companies out there.

So it was a rude surprise to read about yerba mate and health, and hear more about cancer and PAH than antioxidants and wakeful boost.

Here is a link to a 2007 peer-reviewed paper that has a nice review on the health considerations of Yerba Mate, including cancer.

Yerba mate tea may cause cancer. 60% increase in respiratory or digestive cancers by regular drinkers. (latimes.com)

While I’ll wait to hear (I welcome more info from my friends) and learn more, it seems the science is pretty well conclusive on this point: drinking more than a little mate, especially with the leaves soaking, is bad news.

With thanks for the tip to Tom, one of our best troublemaking commenters. ~ Waylon Lewis, ed.

Every liberal hipster hippies’ favorite natural, non-Western drink: exposed?

Read the science here. Excerpt:

Yerba Mate and Cancer

“Yerba mate has a reputation as a health drink and indeed, a Google search on yerba mate yields over 3 million websites, many of which tout the benefits of this drink. As well, yerba mate commonly is referred to as “the ancient drink of health and friendship” by those promote it….Regardless of the concerns raised by this research, yerba mate continues to be promoted as a health drink and researchers…”

Despite its healthy reputation, numerous research studies have linked regular drinking of yerba mate with increased risk of cancers of the mouth, head and neck, esophagus, bladder, larynx, kidney, and lung and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) (2-18). Yerba mate drinking is most consistently associated with esophageal cancer (4-6,8,9,13-16,19). Some studies suggest that it is the very hot temperature at which yerba mate is typically consumed that increases esophageal cancer risk, rather than yerba mate itself (13,15).

Other research supports that yerba mate naturally contains carcinogenic (cancer causing) compounds, and this is the reason why the drink is linked with increased cancer risk (20-22). Two research programs that evaluate carcinogenic activity of hundreds of chemicals, mixtures, and natural substances are the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans and the US National Toxicology Program’s Report of Carcinogens. The information from these agencies places yerba mate in the category of having a moderate level of evidence of posing a cancer risk to humans (20).

For much more, click here. The study points out that drinking mate in tea bags, where the leaves are discarded after brief soaking, is far better less worse than drinking mate in the traditional matter, where the leaves are continually steeped.

Discussion and rebuttals here.

For more: LA Times. Discussion and rebuttals here.

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