Background: Maté tea is a nonalcoholic infusion widely consumed in southern South America, and may increase risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and other cancers due to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and/or thermal injury.
Methods: We pooled two case-control studies: a 1988 to 2005 Uruguay study and a 1986 to 1992 multinational study in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, including 1,400 cases and 3,229 controls. We computed ORs and fitted a linear excess OR (EOR) model for cumulative maté consumption in liters/day-year (LPDY).
Results: The adjusted OR for ESCC with 95% confidence interval (CI) by ever compared with never use of maté was 1.60 (1.2-2.2). ORs increased linearly with LPDY (test of nonlinearity; P = 0.69). The estimate of slope (EOR/LPDY) was 0.009 (0.005-0.014) and did not vary with daily intake, indicating maté intensity did not influence the strength of association. EOR/LPDY estimates for consumption at warm, hot, and very hot beverage temperatures were 0.004 (-0.002-0.013), 0.007 (0.003-0.013), and 0.016 (0.009-0.027), respectively, and differed significantly (P < 0.01). EOR/LPDY estimates were increased in younger (<65) individuals and never alcohol drinkers, but these evaluations were post hoc, and were homogeneous by sex.
Conclusions: ORs for ESCC increased linearly with cumulative maté consumption and were unrelated to intensity, so greater daily consumption for shorter duration or lesser daily consumption for longer duration resulted in comparable ORs. The strength of association increased with higher maté temperatures.
Impact: Increased understanding of cancer risks with maté consumption enhances the understanding of the public health consequences given its purported health benefits.