Yerba Mate May Help Fight Colon Cancer
A new study conducted at the University of Illinois shows that the compounds in yerba mate tea have the ability to essentially make colon cancer cells self-destruct. In addition to inducing cell death in colon cancer cells, the study also showed that yerba mate reduced important markers of inflammation, which is significant as inflammation can trigger the steps of cancer progression. Yerba mate has long been consumed in South America for its medicinal properties, and now this study is bringing them to light.
Could preventing colon cancer be as simple as developing a taste for yerba mate tea? In a recent University of Illinois study, scientists showed that human colon cancer cells die when they are exposed to the approximate number of bioactive compounds present in one cup of this brew, which has long been consumed in South America for its medicinal properties.
“The caffeine derivatives in mate tea not only induced death in human colon cancer cells, they also reduced important markers of inflammation,” said Elvira de Mejia, a U of I associate professor of food chemistry and food toxicology.
That’s important because inflammation can trigger the steps of cancer progression, she said.
In the in vitro study, de Mejia and former graduate student Sirima Puangpraphant isolated, purified, and then treated human colon cancer cells with caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) derivatives from mate tea. As the scientists increased the CQA concentration, cancer cells died as a result of apoptosis.
“Put simply, the cancer cell self-destructs because its DNA has been damaged,” she said.
The ability to induce apoptosis, or cell death, is a promising tactic for therapeutic interventions in all types of cancer, she said.
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Article updated on: February 7th, 2012