If you suffer from acid reflux, ulcers or similar ailments, you and many other North Carolina residents may find relief from a prescription your doctor wrote for ranitidine. Under the brand name Zantac, ranitidine helps to reduce the acid your stomach may produce that causes you discomfort and pain and that may even result in more serious health conditions. Unfortunately for you and the millions of people who take ranitidine products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a recall because of a high cancer risk.
At some point in the manufacturing process, ranitidine apparently develops levels of N–nitrosodimethylamine that the FDA considers unsafe for human consumption. NDMA occurs in trace amounts in your food and water, but when it occurs at levels higher than 96 nanograms, you are at great risk.
Recent studies show that a small amount of NDMA can occur as part of the ranitidine manufacturing process. However, in a short space of time after manufacturing, the levels of NDMA can climb drastically. Some examples include the following:
- Pills left in a hot car can reach NDMA levels of 96 ng in as little as 12 days.
- Pills stored in a home medicine chest, such as in a humid bathroom, can show increased levels of NDMA.
- Boxes of medication on the shelves in drug stores can quickly reach unsafe levels of NDMA.
Unfortunately, when you purchase your prescription of Zantac or other product containing ranitidine, you have no way of knowing how long it has been sitting on the shelf, under what conditions it was stored or how high the level of NDMA may be present in the pills by the time you consume them.
Even if those levels are still very low, the acid in your own stomach may also create a high level of NDMA. In fact, one laboratory study showed that an acidic environment may create levels of NDMA as high as 10,000 ng. When actual patients submitted to urine tests after consuming ranitidine, the levels rose to 40,000 ng within 24 hours.
It doesn’t end there
Researchers are concerned about rising levels of NDMA in other substances you may routinely use, such as antihistamines, migraine medication, blood pressure prescriptions and water purifiers. These have chemical structures similar to ranitidine and therefore may also generate dangerous levels of cancer-causing NDMA.
NDMA is connected to nearly a dozen kinds of cancer, including colorectal, liver cancer, stomach and breast cancers. In many cases, these illnesses can have life-changing effects, including costly medical procedures, long-term health repercussions and, in many cases, the loss of life.