Cancer Risks Connected to Zantac

6/11/2020 By Andrea Gold Read in about 3 minutes

April 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested manufacturers of Zantac to take all medications containing ranitidine off the market.

You have suffered from heartburn for years. Your doctor put you on Zantac a while back to help control your symptoms, and it has worked well. Then you go to the pharmacy to pick up your medication like you usually do and are told it has been recalled. 

You call your doctor, and he prescribes a new medication. You ask why Zantac was recalled, and he tells you the FDA found small amounts of a substance in the medication that may cause cancer. You are surprised, and a bit shook. Your husband has been taking Zantac for years and was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Could Zantac have caused his cancer? 

What is Zantac Used for in Adults?

Zantac is an H2 Blocker that reduces the acid in the stomach that causes ulcers and other health issues. Zantac and similar medications use ranitidine to treat ulcers of the intestines and stomach and prevent them from coming back after they have healed. 

This medication is also used for other stomach and throat issues, including acid reflux and erosive esophagitis. Studies have found that ranitidine products contain low levels of a carcinogen called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

What is N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)?

N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) contains low levels of an impurity called nitrosamine. NDMA is classified as a human carcinogen that is found in water and various foods. 

A carcinogen can cause cancer in people who come in contact with it. The FDA found that this impurity increases in products like Zantac over time and when stored at high temperatures. 

The Dangers of Using Zantac

This past April, the FDA requested that all manufacturers of Zantac, generic forms of Zantac, and over the counter medications with ranitidine discontinue them. Since this request, dozens of pharmaceutical companies have recalled Zantac. 

Studies have linked NDMA to cancer in humans and animals. It is now being alleged that manufacturers of Zantac knew of the possible dangers and still placed the medication on the market and didn’t warn consumers of the health risks. 

Types of Cancers Linked to NDMA 

Studies have found that NDMA in medications may be linked to the cancers below. 

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Colorectal cancer 
  • Liver cancer 
  • Bladder cancer 
  • Stomach cancer 
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Leukemia 

Symptoms of Various Cancers in Connection to NDMA

  • Weight loss 
  • Vomiting 
  • Back pain 
  • Dark urine 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Yellowing of the skin 
  • Blood in the urine 

NDMA Exposure and Side Effects

Exposure to NDMA has also been found to cause side effects. Exposure to NDMA over a long period of time raises the risk of severe health issues such as kidney failure, liver failure, and tumor development.

Some additional health problems connected to the long-term exposure of NDMA are below.

  • Higher risk of pneumonia 
  • Rashes
  • Nervous system issues 
  • Hepatitis 

Keep in mind that there are other medications on the market that include ranitidine. Make sure you know all the ingredients in your medications and if any of them pose a health risk.

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