Drinking maté, common in southern South America, may increase the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). In 2006, we found high but variable polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content in commercial yerba maté samples from eight Brazilian brands. The PAH content of new samples from the same brands, purchased in 2008, and four brands from a single manufacturer processed in different ways, obtained in 2010, were quantified to determine whether PAH concentration was still high, whether PAH content variation was brand specific, and whether processing method affects PAH content of commercial yerba maté. Concentrations of individual PAHs were quantified using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry with deuterated PAHs as internal standards. Median total PAH concentration was 1500 ng/g (range: 625-3710 ng/g) and 1090 ng/g (621-1990 ng/g) in 2008 and 2010 samples, respectively. Comparing 2006 and 2008 samples, some brands had high PAH concentrations in both years, while PAH concentration changed considerably in others. Benzo[a]pyrene concentrations ranged from 11.9 to 99.3 ng/g and 5.11 to 21.0 ng/g in 2008 and 2010 samples, respectively. The 2010 sample processed without touching smoke had the lowest benzo[a]pyrene content. These results support previous findings of very high total and carcinogenic PAH concentrations in yerba maté, perhaps contributing to the high incidence of ESCC in southern South America. The large PAH content variation by brand, batch, and processing method suggests it may be possible to reduce the content of carcinogenic PAHs in commercial yerba maté, making it a healthier beverage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry