The International Agency for Research on Cancer, one of the bodies linked to the World Health Organization (WHO), brought together 23 researchers from different countries around the world to assess the effects caused by hot beverages such as coffee, tea and mate.Experts have concluded that drinks above 65°C increase the likelihood of esophageal cancer. To give you an idea, in Rio Grande do Sul, where the consumption of chimarrão is a habit, the incidence of this disease is 2.5 times to 5 times higher than in the rest of the country.

The problem, however, is not in the herb, but in the temperature at which the drinks are served. “The hot water from chimarrão burns the esophagus mucosa, and this facilitates the entry of carcinogenic substances received by the food”, says researcher Ricardo Gurski , chief of surgery at the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, in an interview with Agência Brasil.

What do experts say?

It is wrong to think that only chimarrão causes this health risk, because all teas served at high temperatures increase the chances of cancer in the esophagus.

Also according to Gurski, who is also a professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), what is recommended is not to stop consumption, but to be careful with other aspects. “The issue is not the fact of drinking hot water itself, but how much the person is exposed to the volume and high temperature of the water and the frequency with which this happens”, he explains.

In the same way advises one of the two Brazilian researchers who participated in the WHO studies, Luis Felipe Ribeiro Pinto. “Cold yerba mate has no problem to be consumed, however, hot as mate or any drink, above 65 ºC, it was classified as probably carcinogenic for esophageal cancer”, he alerts.

Tip to consume teas and mate safely

It is not necessary to eliminate the habit of drinking mate or abandon the ingestion of other hot teas. What is needed is to be careful about the temperature of these drinks.

Thus, Professor Ricardo Gurski gives a tip to know if the liquid can be consumed or not. “Before drinking, if a person tries to leave his finger in the water for up to 30 seconds and cannot stand the heat, it is because the liquid is not at the right temperature. In this case, the chimarrão will certainly burn the esophagus”, he indicates.

Esophageal cancer is difficult to diagnose early and therefore becomes difficult to treat. The annual frequency of clinical examinations, such as endoscopy, is indicated, especially after the age of 40 years.