Yerba Mate may prevent colon cancer

Preventing colon cancer could be as simple as making a cup of Yerba Maté tea.

In South America, the Yerba Maté brew has a long history of use, becoming as much a ritual as tea or coffee in other parts of the world. After a study, scientists found that the bioactive compounds present in this herb, act directly on the human colon cancer cells.

"The caffeine derivatives in Maté tea not only induced death in human colon cancer cells, they also reduced important markers of inflammation." said Elvira de Meija, an associate professor in food chemistry and food toxicology.

Inflammation may be the trigger of the cancer progression. With the help of former graduate students, professor de Meija isolated, purified and then treated the colon cancer cells with the caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) derivatives from Maté tea. When we increase the CQA concentration the cancer cells die as a result of apoptosis (cell death). What this means is that the cell essentially self-destructs because its DNA has been damaged.

The ability to induce apoptosis is a promising tactic for therapeutic intervention for all kinds of cancer. With these studies, the professor Elvira de Mejia was able to identify the mechanism that led to cell death. This CQA derivative has greatly decreased several markers of inflammation. The cancer cells died with the induction of two specific enzymes: caspase-3 and caspase-8.

The caffeine derivatives in the Maté tea show the potential of this beverage as anti-cancer agent and could also be used to fight against other diseases associated with inflammation.

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Sciencedaily.com - Compounds in Mate Tea Induce Death in Colon Cancer Cells, in Vitro Study Shows