Zantac and Cancer

Zantac and Cancer

According to the National Institutes of Health, the heartburn preventative Zantac was approved for use in the United States in 1983 and by 1988 it had become the world’s best-selling drug. In 2004 generic ranitidine was approved for over-the-counter use in the U.S. and remained available until April 2020, when the FDA announced the withdrawal from the market of prescription, over-the-counter, and generic ranitidine and issued a warning to consumers. Nearly 15 million people were prescribed Zantac yearly prior to it being withdrawn from the market.

The active ingredient in Zantac is a substance called ranitidine and it works by decreasing the amount of acid your stomach makes. In 2018 ranitidine was found to have low levels of the known human carcinogen NDMA. N-nitrosodimethylamine is a stabilizing agent used in gasoline, rocket fuel, and other petroleum-based industrial products. The FDA found that the level of NDMA in ranitidine increased when the drug was stored in high temperatures and also as it got older.

Negative Effects of Zantac Use

According to the FDA, since 1983 there have been 73,240 cases reported with a negative effect from Zantac. This includes 55,891 serious cases, 4,926 deaths, and 66 percent of the cases were linked to cancer. In 2020 alone, however, reports of adverse reactions to Zantac spiked to 71,861. 70 percent of these reports mentioned cancers, the most common one being colorectal or colon cancer.

While the short-term risk of NDMA-caused cancer is thought to be low, there have not been full evaluations of longer-term exposure. However, Zantac and other ranitidine-based drugs have been linked to colorectal, kidney, bladder, prostate, esophageal, stomach, liver, pancreatic, lung, breast, gastrointestinal, uterine, testis, and thyroid cancers. Of the cancer deaths that were tied to taking Zantac, pancreatic cancer had the highest number of deaths, followed by liver, esophageal, colorectal, and stomach cancers.

Demographics of Zantac Injury

According to the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), 12,982 of the cases were reported by females, 8,437 cases were reported by males, but the majority of cases (51,821) did not specify gender.

Age was not specified in 39,002 cases. In the cases that did specify age, there were 19,027 reported cases in the 18-64 year range, 13,168 cases reported in the 65-85 year range, and all other age ranges had fewer than 1,000 cases reported.

Zantac-related cancers can take years to develop, so the serious adverse effects are not known in many cases for around four years.

What is Asbestos-Related Mesothelioma?

What is Asbestos-Related Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is a tumor of the tissue (mesothelium) lining the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs but the most common form affects the lungs. The most common symptoms include cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include fever or night sweats, fluid around the lungs, fatigue and muscle weakness. While treatments are available to extend life expectancy and quality of life, it is a rare and aggressive cancer and there is no cure.

Risk Factors for Mesothelioma

The fact that it takes 20-50 years to develop means that the average age of diagnosis for mesothelioma is 65 or older. The people most at risk for developing this cancer are those who have worked directly with the mineral asbestos or with products containing asbestos. Asbestos in the workplace, in homes, schools, public buildings and naval ships has led to dangerous exposure. Veterans, firefighters, miners, auto mechanics, construction workers, HVAC technicians, electricians, textile mill workers and their family members are all at risk due to their possible long term exposure to asbestos. Those with a family history of mesothelioma and those who have had radiation therapy for cancer in the chest area might also have an increased risk of mesothelioma.

Prognosis and Life Expectancy

As with all cancers, the earlier mesothelioma is detected, the better the outcome that can be expected. The cancer falls into one of four stages, based on size and location. In stage 1, the cancer is localized and surgery can be effective. Median life expectancy at stage 1 is 22.2 months. In stage 2, tumors have spread to adjacent structures. While surgery is still an option, median life expectancy is 20 months. In stage 3, cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes and surgery is an option only in select cases. The median life expectancy in stage 3 is 17.9 months. In stage 4, tumors have spread to distant organs. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy ease symptoms and the median life expectancy is 14.9 months.

Age, gender, and overall health are factors that affect the outlook for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. Younger patients and women have a better prognosis than older men.

Resources for More Information – Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma Symptoms and Causes – The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Connection