A recent scientific study, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research in 2011, found that yerba mate tea induces death in human colon cancer cells.

Mate is regularly consumed in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. It has been long-valued for its medicinal properties by South American traditional healers.

University of Illinois associate professor of food chemical and toxicology, Elvira de Mejia, discovered that in-vitro cancer cells died when exposed to the bioactive compounds present in one cup of this beverage.

The study suggests that the mate tea compounds not only have potential as anti-cancer agents, but may also be effective against other diseases associated with inflammation. However, since the colon and its microflora play a major role in the absorption and metabolism of caffeine-related compounds, the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects of mate tea may be most potent against bowel cancer. “We believe there’s ample evidence to support drinking mate tea for its bioactive benefits, especially if you have reason to be concerned about colon cancer,” noted Professor de Mejia. “The caffeine derivatives in mate tea not only induced death in human colon cancer cells, they also reduced important markers of inflammation.” Mejia observed that this is important since inflammation can lead to cancer progression.