Cancer from Zantac: What’s The Cause?

Carcinogens are substances that can cause cancer. Certain factors might also influence cancer cells to spread in the body. You may acquire carcinogens from viruses and lifestyle factors. However, you can also receive these harmful substances from medicines.

One medicine to note that may have cancer-producing characteristics is Zantac. This medication may help treat specific health complications. But, reports found that it may also do more harm than good to its users.  

What is Zantac?

Zantac is a brand name for the generic medicine called ranitidine. Ranitidine belongs to a group of histamine-2 blockers. These drugs help patients by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach. Excess stomach acid might cause acid reflux, and this ailment may come with heartburn. 

Aside from helping from the prevention of heartburn, Zantac and other ranitidine drugs may also help prevent ulcers in the stomach and intestines. 

This medicine may provide relief and treatment for acid reflux if users follow the instructions to the letter. Consumers mustn’t break, crush, or chew the tablet. Also, don’t wait too long to swallow the medicine mentioned earlier, as it might dissolve on the tongue. 

When is Zantac not an Ideal Option for Acid Reflux and/or Heartburn?

You mustn’t attempt to self-medicate if you’re unsure of the positive and negative effects that come with the product. Consult your doctor if you feel pain in the chest or other potential symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. 

But, don’t consume Zantac or other ranitidine drugs if you have:

  • Allergies to this particular medicine
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • A genetic enzyme disorder called porphyria

Also, ranitidine might not be harmful to pregnant or nursing mothers. But, don’t disregard talking to your doctor before taking these drugs. The components of ranitidine may pass into breast milk, and specific components might pose harmful effects to children. 

What is the Possible Cause of Cancer from Zantac?

On September 13, 2019, the US Food & Drug Association (FDA) posted an announcement that tests found low levels of a substance called nitrosodimethulamine (NDMA) in ranitidine. This component is an environmental contaminant that might be present in water and certain foods like grilled meats and dairy products. NDMA may also be a potential carcinogen, which means that it’s possible to gain cancer from Zantac

Sanofi, the French drugmaker owning Zantac, made the announcement for the recall about one month after the FDA posted their statement. 

As per the statement from the French biopharmaceutical company, the recall decision comes from the failure to isolate the issue. The press release stated that there are inconsistencies in test results of the active ingredient in Zantac. So, it might be Sanofi’s best decision to recall their merchandise instead of posing unwanted risks to its consumers. 

The warning first appeared after Valisure, an online pharmacy and laboratory in Connecticut, discovered NDMA in different medicines. The company posted on their website’s blog that Zantac’s potential risk as a carcinogen is in medical studies that date back to the 1980s. 

But, it might be possible that the declaration of high levels of NDMA in these medicines might be the product of the testing method used by the biopharmaceutical company. An October 2, 2019 update made to the original FDA announcement states that the testing method used by Valisure isn’t suitable for checking ranitidine. 

Nonetheless, Zantac consumers might want to consult their doctors for advice if the consumption of the drug already happened. Medical professionals might suggest cancer screening examinations as part of an in-depth checkup for patients. 

What are the Potential Side Effects of Using Zantac?

Aside from being a carcinogen, it’s essential to stop using the medicine if you experience severe Zantac adverse effects like:

  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Rapid or slow heart rate
  • Fever and chills

However, consumers might also experience other adverse effects like drowsiness, headache, and vomiting. Nonetheless, you must consult your doctor if these symptoms persist.  

Are there are Other Similar Medicines Recalled?

Aside from Zantac, other blood pressure medications issued a recall around the same time when the FDA posted their announcement. Other drugs with similar effects and components to Zantac include losartan and irbesartan. 


Let the information gained from reading the content above help you be aware of the potential effects of using Zantac. Again, consult your doctor first before consuming any medicine for acid reflux and heartburn treatment to avoid any possible adverse effects. Self-medication without the proper advice of a medical professional might only lead to more health complications than intended.