Does Zantac Really Cause Cancer?

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Does Zantac Really Cause Cancer?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Since the fall of 2019, Zantac has been linked to various types of cancers. If you took Zantac or ranitidine and received a cancer diagnosis, you could have a valid personal injury claim. It’s best to speak with a Zantac attorney about your possible claim.  

Ranitidine, also known by the brand name Zantac has been a popular prescription and over the counter (OTC) medication to treat heartburn for nearly four decades. Since its introduction in the early 1980s, Zantac has helped millions of heartburn sufferers escape this painful condition. Little did some of these patients and their families know that Zantac’s manufacturers were hiding a secret; that Zantac could contain a carcinogen. If you or someone you love found this out the hard way, do not hesitate to seek the help of a seasoned Zantac attorney.

How Does Zantac Cause Cancer?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in October of 2019 that Zantac and certain other generic preparations of ranitidine can potentially be contaminated with NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine) – a dangerous chemical that potentially causes cancer. Unstable storage temps or even combining with stomach acids can make NDMA levels higher, and therefore, more dangerous.

NDMA is a semi-volatile organic chemical that is known to cause liver cancer and cancer in other organs. Liver damage can result from exposure to even minimal amounts. NDMA is classified as an environmental contaminant and is often found in drinking water, meat, dairy, and vegetables. NDMA is classified as a B2 probable human carcinogen. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to high levels of NDMA is linked to gastric and colorectal cancer. This chemical is so carcinogenic that it has also been used to create cancer in lab rats for testing.

The link between NDMA and cancer is so strong that in April of 2020, all brands and preparations of ranitidine were removed from the market. Any patients still having some at home were instructed to stop taking them immediately.

Issues with Zantac

Ranitidine (brand name, Zantac™) was used to treat gastroenterological reflux disease (GERD), gastric ulcers, acid indigestion, or to treat heartburn. However, the FDA issued a recall after it discovered that this form of Zantac contained the carcinogen NDMA. The drug was taken off the market in 2020 – both as a prescription and over-the-counter medicine.

Zantac, under this formulation, falls under the classification of drugs known as H2 blockers. Currently, the drug, which has been reformulated, is sold as Zantac 360, with the ingredient famotidine replacing ranitidine. 

The new Zantac 360 formula is available in regular and maximum strengths over the counter in the U.S. The FDA states that the new Zantac, which is deemed safe for use, does not contain NDMA contamination.

When the ranitidine recall occurred, N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was noted in some of the drug’s batches. Starting in September 2019, pharmacies began pulling the medication off retail shelves. In April 2020, the FDA asked for the removal of all ranitidine products.

Moreover, the FDA said that research showed that the level of NDMA in some ranitidine products elevated over time, especially when they were stored in places at higher-than-normal room temperatures. This led to the emergence of unacceptable levels of NDMA.

According to cancer researchers, NDMA is categorized as a group 2A carcinogen – showing sufficient evidence that the chemical can, in all probability, cause cancer in humans.

How Zantac with Ranitidine Works

Ranitidine works by barring a chemical called histamine, which, in turn, reduces stomach acid. The drug starts working in as little as 30 minutes and is able to control acid production for as long as 12 hours. This also reduces a patient’s heartburn severity and frequency.

While heartburn patients often took the drug, hospitals also used ranitidine injections for patients who had intractable duodenal ulcers or hypersecretory conditions, such as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, peptic ulcers, or GERD.

*An intractable duodenal ulcer is an ulcer that has not still healed and has not responded, after eight weeks, to full dosages of an anti-ulcer medication. This type of ulcer is relatively rare.

**A peptic ulcer is a sore that emerges on the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine. If it shows up in the mouth, it’s known as a gastric ulcer. 

A peptic ulcer that develops in the first section of the small intestine is called a duodenal ulcer.

Side Effects Associated with Zantac with Ranitidine

Besides being suspected of the formation of intestinal cancer, ranitidine also causes side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. In some rare events, the administration of the drug led to skin rashes, cardiac disorders, or liver failure. Elderly patients who were severely ill also complained of depression, confusion, agitation, or hallucinations.

Zantac-Related Cancers

The finding of NDMA in the old Zantac formula has prompted scientific researchers to perform extensive studies. These studies have been conducted to evaluate the links between Zantac use and certain cancers. 

From this research, investigators found a connection in the development of five types of cancer. However, since that time, the development of numerous other related cancers has been unveiled. 

During the initial research, investigators found that the drug was primarily linked to cancer of the bladder, stomach, pancreas, liver, and esophagus. 

Types of Cancer Caused by Zantac

Research studies are currently underway to determine what types of cancers could be caused by Zantac. We do not entirely know what cancers NDMA-contaminated Zantac have or could cause, but the following cancers could potentially be caused by Zantac:

  1. Colorectal
  2. Esophageal
  3. Kidney
  4. Intestinal
  5. Liver
  6. Pancreatic
  7. Stomach
  8. Ovarian
  9. Uterine
  10. Brain
  11. Breast
  12. Throat/nasal
  13. Thyroid
  14. Prostate
  15. Testicular
  16. Bladder
  17. Lung
  18. Leukemia
  19. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  20. Multiple myeloma

Filing a Claim: Eligibility Requirements

You may be eligible to file a Zantac cancer lawsuit in Illinois if the following applies:

  1. You took Zantac regularly for one year – either the prescription or OTC medication. 
  2. You received a cancer diagnosis that is related to Zantac use.
  3. One year passed between the time you stopped taking Zantac and you were diagnosed with cancer.
  4. You’re currently receiving cancer treatments and project ongoing medical costs.

If the above criteria apply to you, you need to contact a lawyer ASAP. The statute of limitations in Illinois for Zantac claims is two years. Therefore, you have two years from the date of your cancer diagnosis to file a lawsuit. Otherwise, your case will be dismissed.

Were You Diagnosed with Cancer after Taking Zantac? A Zantac Lawyer is Waiting to Speak to You

Taking medication to help with pain and discomfort, only to later learn that it caused you to have a life-threatening condition, can feel extremely violating. If this happened to you or a loved one, you have legal rights you should be aware of.  We are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. You can receive a free no-obligation consultation with compassionate Zantac attorneys at Malman Law today. Call (312) 629-0099 or use our online contact form. This is the first step in getting the help you need.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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