A report from the American College of Gastronomy indicates that approximately 60 million people in the US suffer from heartburn monthly. Looking at these numbers, it’s no surprise that there are many heartburn drugs on the market. Although one can eliminate heartburn symptoms through stress and dietary management, it may take a long time to work. This results in an increased demand for medicines instead.
In 2016, some researchers broke the news that some antacids may contain the cancer-causing substance N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)—NDMA is categorized as a possible human carcinogen. Among the drugs in question was ranitidine, better known as Zantac. Healthy persons who took regular doses of the heartburn medicine showed an increased level of NDMA in their urine tests.
So, what link does Zantac have in treating heartburn and possibly causing cancer? Read along to find out.
Zantac Link In Heartburn And Cancer
First, exposure to NDMA is alleged to raise the risk of cancers such as the esophagus, tongue, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and liver. There’s no test available to determine your risk of cancer from taking Zantac. However, the best way to deal with your concerns over the use of Zantac and your risk of getting cancer is through consulting a doctor.
However, various animal tests are said to have shown that taking higher doses and more prolonged exposure to NDMA increased the risk of cancer in the animals. The test is said to have resulted in increased incidents of liver tumors and a lowered survival rate.
Cancer Risk From Ranitidine
The acceptable daily intake of ranitidine is 96 nanograms. The FDA has asked all companies that produce higher levels of ranitidine to recall it. FDA also stated that Zantac contains only a small level of NDMA contamination. However, they also found that these levels increase when the drug is stored in higher temperatures within a certain period.
This means that the longer the drug is kept, the higher the chances of an increase in NDMA levels, which consequently leads to higher cancer risks. It may be challenging to determine whether a drug has been exposed to high temperatures or how long it’s been sitting on the shelf. This is probably one of the reasons the FDA asked for the recall. You can read more on Zantac and ranitidine at online news outlets like Drug Injury News.
The Link Between NDMA And Cancer
The biggest concern with NDMA is its potential to cause cancer even in small amounts. It was also said that the longer a person is exposed to it, the higher the risk of developing cancer and other health issues such as liver disease. Studies and testing on rodents revealed this as a consistent effect of NDMA exposure.
NDMA is a known potent animal carcinogen and has been proven in all the animal species studied. The result was similar for single doses and long-term exposure. Notably, NDMA is said to have the same metabolism rate in human tissues and rodents. Meaning, it may cause cancer to humans as it does to animals.
This has resulted in the classification of NDMA as a probable cancer-causing substance to humans (Group 2A) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).The IARC highlights that NDMA should be classified among human carcinogenic substances for practical purposes. Other organizations such as the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believe NDMA to be a human carcinogen and probable human carcinogen, respectively.
Types Of Cancer Possibly Caused By Zantac
Over-the-counter Zantac may contain high levels of NDMA accelerated by the length of time it’s been on the counter and the temperature exposure. Here are several types of cancer it may be linked to:
- Throat/nasal cancer: This cancer affects the cells lining of the throat, and symptoms include voice changes, cough, and sore throat. Individuals with chronic acid reflux have an increased risk.
- Esophageal cancer: The symptoms of this cancer include chest pains, difficulty in swallowing, and heartburn. Upon experiencing these symptoms, patients may think it’s a good idea to continue taking Zantac. It’s believed to affect more men than women.
- Stomach cancer: This is also known as gastric cancer and it tends to develop within a long period.
- Colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancer starts as a polyp in the colon or rectum. The larger the polyps, the more likely they are to cause cancer.
- Liver cancer: The symptoms of liver cancer may include abdominal pain and swelling in the abdomen. NDMA has been said to have harmful effects on human and animal livers.
Bladder cancer: The symptoms of bladder cancer from using Zantac may include painful urination and blood in the urine. It’s often diagnosable early and has high treatment success rates.
- Pancreatic cancer: The typical symptoms include yellowing eyes, abdominal pain, and itchy skin. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is often fatal as it’s mostly diagnosed in its later stages.
- Breast cancer: Zantac is said to increase the risk of ductal carcinoma by twice the average risk.
A lot of research has been carried out on Zantac and its possible cancer-causing effects. If you have any concerns over the exposure to cancer through Zantac, the best thing to do is visit your doctor. From the outcome, you may consider seeing a legal professional and know the available options for you.