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Real Talk: Has Anyone Actually Gotten Cancer From Zantac?

| March 28, 2021, 08:09 AM

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have most likely heard of Zantac. It’s also known as ranitidine, and it’s a very popular over-the-counter drug that’s used for curing heartburn. And again, if you’ve heard of Zantac, it’s also very likely that you have heard about the issues FDA has found with it – it contains a possible human carcinogen. There were a lot of talks, but little information on this topic, since a lot of details remain blurry. But the question remains: has anyone actually ever gotten cancer from Zantac?

What Is Zantac?

Before we delve into this topic, it’s important to see what Zantac is, and what’s so harmful about it? Ranitidine, which is its pharmaceutical name can be bought over the counter or by prescription. Over-the-counter ranitidine is mostly used to relieve heartburn, while the prescribed version is used for stomach ulcers that are of a more serious nature. In any case, they’re both known as histamine-2 blockers or shorter H2 blockers. Zantac was introduced in 1981, and it soon became one of the biggest selling prescription drugs, as millions of people worldwide used it to relieve their pain. It was definitely concerning to find out that such a popular drug, the 50th most prescribed, has a carcinogenic substance in it. But what makes it so harmful?

NDMA in Zantac

In 2019, the FDA, while doing preliminary testing, found unacceptable levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in Zantac. Now, what exactlt is NDMA ? It’s a component that can usually be found in the environment, water, and soil, and then later on dairy and meat due to animals consuming it by accident. It’s a contaminant, and it’s shown to cause cancer in animals, during research. Its effect on humans isn’t yet well known, due to insufficient studies. The tests that were done on animals, specifically rodents, show that NDMA, when inhaled or consumed in water, increases the rate of liver cancer. It has shown to be carcinogenic within all kinds of animal testing, which is why the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies it as a probable carcinogen for humans. Even though we don’t know yet for sure what kind of effect it has on humans, there is one thing that we do know, and that is – it’s not an immediate threat to your health!

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Since it is highly unethical to test cancer medication on humans, we cannot be 100% sure if it is also carcinogenic for humans, but as research shows, the possibility is there. There is enough anecdotal evidence, especially relating to breast cancer that points in that direction. One of those anecdotes comes from a Florida man, who used Zantac regularly for years, to treat his heartburn. Allegedly, it caused his breast cancer. Many people just like him, over 500 of them, filed lawsuits against Sanofi, which didn’t help this recalled drug stay on the market. Not all of them were individuals suffering from breast cancer either though, as numerous types of cancer were mentioned in this lawsuit. Zantac has undergone a bunch of tests afterward. The FDA stated that the testing method which was used at first might not have been the best, as it requires heating ranitidine, which as a result then releases NDMA. But that raises another question, how can we be sure that the medicine stored in pharmacies hasn’t been accidentally exposed to heat in the process?


As mentioned earlier many people have complained about Zantac causing different types of cancer, but what types could those be? Again, when tested on rodents, it has shown that the longer these animals were exposed to NDMA, the chances of developing an illness were higher. These rodents mainly ended up with tumors located in their kidneys, heart, and liver. In humans, it could also be linked to different types of abdominal cancers such as stomach cancer, intestine cancer, both large and small, and colorectal cancer. Besides that bladder, esophagus, throat, prostate, and pancreas were shown to be a risk of cancer, with different symptoms showing up.

Although, as we’ve seen, it cannot be completely proven to cause cancer, as testing on humans is highly unethical, there are some links to be made. It’s an important thing to note that Zantac shouldn’t be used long-term, and if your heartburn continues after some time, you ought to visit your doctor. It’s always best to listen to professionals and seek their advice, rather than going on a hunch and possibly causing damage. It’s your well-being you’re putting on the line at the end of the day, be wary of the possible consequences and irreversible damages!

Severn Bank



Category: Local News, NEWS

About the Author - Stephanie Maris

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland and most recently a wife and a mother. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages.

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