Popular herbal tea linked to increased risk of 3 cancers

TikTok user drops a Jaffa Cake into a cup of tea

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The tea in question was yerba mate tea, a herbal tea made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant in South America.

While thought to have some health benefits, the study conducted by the Instituto de Oncologia in Argentina, suggests it could increase your risk of cancer.

In their conclusion, they wrote: “The role of hot mate in increasing the risk of cancer of oesophagus, larynx, and oral cavity seems to be supported by several epidemiological studies.

“The temperature could act by damaging the mucosa or accelerating metabolic reactions, including those with carcinogenic substances in tobacco and alcohol.

“However, there is no sound population-based case-control study on mate consumption as a risk factor for cancer.”

They added: “This, coupled with the range of results on mate risk, make assessing the etiological fraction difficult.

“More research needs to be done before a definitive statement can be made regarding cancer risk associated with any of the various forms of mate consumption.

“Future research should include population-based studies; collection of data on consumption of tobacco, alcohol, hot drinks, fresh fruit, and vegetables; and, a method to precisely measure volume and temperature of mate intake.”

While the conclusion on yerba mate was not drawn in 2009, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting hot drinks can cause harm.

However, this isn’t necessarily due to the compounds present, but rather the temperature they are served at.

A 2016 study by the University of Southern California, assessed the impact of hot drinks on the likelihood of cancer.

They said that drinks hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius could increase your risk of cancer in your oesophagus.

Associate Professor Marian Stern said: “There is physical evidence that very hot beverages can contribute to cell injury in the oesophagus and thus contribute to cancer formation.”

As part of their study, the team also assessed whether herbal mate tea specifically had an impact on cancer likelihood.

Stern said: “We were now able to evaluate more carefully the effect of mate itself from the effect of temperature, and we concluded that the observed links between mate drinking and cancer of the oesophagus seem to be largely driven by drinking mate very hot.

“Similar associations are seen for other very hot beverages, like tea or coffee.”
However, Stern said there was evidence warm drinks could have a positive impact on the body such as coffee.

Stern said of the popular beverage: “For many cancer types, we found clear evidence that coffee is not carcinogenic.

“In fact, we found that coffee protects against some cancers such as liver and uterine endometrium cancer.”

Coffee has recently overtaken tea as the most popular drink in the UK and is thought to have multiple benefits for health if taken in the right way and in the right quantity.

The sweet spot is believed to be two or three cups a day and the healthiest form black coffee with no milk or sugar.

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