Zantac was recently pulled from store shelves after it was discovered that the ranitidine used in Zantac contained NDMA, a volatile organic compound that is known to cause cancer in animals based on tests involving rats and mice.
NDMA is currently classified as a possible human carcinogen. This means that the link between NDMA and cancer in humans has yet to be established, but a growing body of research suggests that NDMA will likely be classified as a human carcinogen sometime in the near future.
You should be worried about Zantac if you exhibit any of the symptoms of the various cancers that may be connected to the use of Zantac. These symptoms include:
- Blood in the stool or urine
- Severe weight loss
- Unexplained rashes
- Dramatic changes in bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
Zantac was a highly popular drug that was used to treat ulcers in the stomach and esophagus. It was also used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD is a chronic condition in which acid from the stomach comes back up into the esophagus or food pipe, causing irritation and ulcers in different parts of the gullet. According to the Cleveland Clinic, GERD leads to nearly six million physician visits every year.
How Zantac Works
Zantac works by blocking the production of histamine. Histamine is a compound released by cells in the body that undergo some form of trauma or inflammation. It is also released in response to allergic reactions.
Histamine is known to stimulate the secretion of gastric juices and acids in the stomach, especially when the lining of the stomach is damaged or eroded by acid, causing ulcers and damage beyond the stomach.
Zantac helps control and manage ailments such as GERD and ulcers by inhibiting histamine production in the stomach. As such, it is classified as a histamine blocker, different from proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that reduce acid production by directly blocking the enzymes that produce acid in the stomach. If you never used it or only used it sparingly and in limited quantities, you do not need to worry about Zantac.
It is important to note that even in the absence of NDMA, Zantac can have a wide range of side effects since it affects the body’s natural cycle of food digestion and absorption. It may cause constipation in some patients, while others may experience diarrhea and flatulence.
With long-term use, Zantac can inhibit the absorption of various chemicals and minerals, so tell your doctor about your Zantac use and any other drugs you may be taking, since the combined effects of these drugs can have unwanted consequences.
Zantac and Cancer
NDMA impurities, recently found in Zantac was the reason the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pulled ranitidine products from the market. Current FDA guidelines instruct patients to cease the use of Zantac and to speak with their doctors about using alternative forms of acid reflux and ulcer management that do not contain ranitidine. Alternatives to histamine blockers such as Zantac include PPIs that work somewhat differently, but have very similar outcomes as Zantac.
As far as worrying about Zantac and the possibility that it causes cancer are concerned, it depends on how much you consumed and for how long. If you ingest no more than the safe daily amount of NDMA every day, the chances of developing cancer are very low.
However, until the FDA’s investigation is completed, you should avoid using Zantac. Speak to your doctor about taking an alternative drug.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Bloody stool or urine
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Headaches or unexplained fatigue
Whether the ranitidine used in Zantac was accidentally tainted with NDMA, or it naturally breaks down to produce this harmful carcinogen, you should not have to suffer due to the negligence of the manufacturer. Cancer and other health ailments caused by mistakes or oversights of this type by manufacturers of drugs may entitle you to a product liability claim.
If you used Zantac and your health has been affected, give us a call. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm helps patients file product liability claims in cases involving manufacturer negligence or the willful concealing of product side effects. Call us now at (800) 794-0444 for a free case evaluation.