What Are the Cancer Warning Signs if You've Been Taking Zantac?

On April 1, 2020, the FDA announced it was requesting manufacturers of all ranitidine products, including the popular Zantac, to remove prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs from the market. The agency said new FDA tests show a risk to public health. That risk involved cancer because ranitidine has been linked to NDMA ( N-nitrosodimethylamine) which accumulates in ranitidine-containing drug products on exposure to elevated temperatures, which would be routinely reached during shipment and during storage. More importantly, these conditions occur post-lot release by the manufacturer.

So, the most urgent question asked by Zantac users is this, "How do I know if I have cancer after taking Zantac?" The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that NDMA may cause colorectal cancer in humans when consumed in large volumes over a long period of time. If you've been taking Zantac or one of its ranitidine equivalents, you should consult with your physician and ask about your specific risk for colon cancer.

Here are some signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer (also known simply as colon cancer):

  • Anemia related to intestinal bleeding
  • Sudden and persistent changes in stool including diarrhea or constipation
  • Episodes of pain, cramps, or gas in the abdomen
  • Bloatedness or the gut never feels empty even after defecating
  • The feeling of fatigue or weakness
  • An unexpected loss of weight

Anatomical illustration of colorectal cancer (colon cancer) in a Zantac user

However, colon cancer is not the only type of cancer with which we must be concerned. Gastric cancer and cancer of the stomach are also potential possibilities for those who have been exposed to these drugs over a long period of time. Organs potentially affected by NDMA include the bladder, brain, liver, kidneys, lungs and stomach, according to a report by the World Health Organization.

According to WebMD, " Beyond the cancer worries, NDMA poses other dangers. In animals and humans, exposure has led to liver damage and, in larger amounts, even death. And there’s reason to suspect the substance can harm a human fetus: When pregnant mice were fed NDMA in the lab, their babies were either born dead or died shortly after birth."

What we know at this point-Zantac and ranitidine products are dangerous and may cause cancer as well as other serious health problems. Also, we know that doctors write more than 15 million prescriptions for the heartburn drug ranitidine (Zantac) each year. Countless more patients buy it over the counter. We don't know yet the full extent of the potential damage.