Yerba Mate tea, a common drink in South American, may have properties that fight colon cancer, according to a new study.

Gastroenterologists Chicago of the North Shore practice who are experts in diagnosing and preventing gastrointestinal tract and liver disease, help patients avoid certain foods that are believed to be problematic for the GI tract. While coffee and the harsh effects on the liver and digestive system are normally on the list of bad foods that cause digestive problems, yerba mate, a drink that also has simulative properties may make it on to gastroenterologist’s good lists.

Researchers at the University of Illinois lead the study on yerba mate and colon cancer cells and discovered that the when human colon cancer cells are put together with the bioactive compounds that are found in just one cup of mate yerba, the colon cancer cells die.

Elvira de Mejia, a University of Illinois associate professor of food chemistry and toxicology, also found the caffeine derivatives in mate tea both kill human colon cancer cells and reduce inflammation in the colon.

Gastroenterology Chicago specialists, who are not involved in this study, work to prevent inflammation in the GI tract as it can be a precursor to cancer development and progression.

The scientists in this study isolated, purified, and treated human colon cancers cells and found that as they subjected the cells to the derivatives from mate tea, caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) at higher concentration, the cells died through apoptosis, the process of morphology and programmed cell death due to biochemical events.  In this process the cancer cells’ DNA becomes damaged

The ability to induce apoptosis in colon cancer cells has many implications for cancer treatments and cancer therapy.  With further research, the caffeine derivatives in mate tea may serve as anti-cancer agents and help cure and prevent inflammation.

To learn more about gastro Chicago diagnosis, treatment, and preventive care for cancer read What is an ERCP and How It Is Used to Diagnose Cancer?