Are your medications hiding cancer risks?

Avoiding toxins seems to be increasingly difficult. Even in the beautiful state of North Carolina, the air and water carry toxic elements. Even some foods you think are healthy may contain substances you would not knowingly consume. However, in small quantities, many of these dangerous compounds have little effect on our overall health.

Unfortunately, if you are like many who take over-the-counter or prescription medications, you may be ingesting cancer-causing ingredients in quantities far higher than what is safe. In recent years, researchers have discovered the presence of nitrosamines, impurities that have been linked to cancer, in over-the-counter and prescription medications such as Zantac. Now, even more medications you may use are under scrutiny because of high levels of nitrosamines.

Check your medicine cabinet

You probably already know that the manufacturers of Zantac are facing serious legal issues because of the link between cancer and the high levels of nitrosamines found in the drug. However, more drugs are joining the list of those causing concerns because of their unsafe levels of this known carcinogen, including:

  • Accuretic: a treatment for high blood pressure
  • Orphenadrine citrate: used to treat painful muscle spasms
  • Chantix: a smoking cessation drug
  • Metformin: controls blood sugar levels in those with diabetes

These impurities may also be present in the generic versions of those drugs. The FDA has set 26.5 nanograms as the maximum amount of nitrosamine you can consume in a day. Studies suggest that consuming higher levels can raise your risk for many types of cancer, such as cancer of the esophagus, pharynx, liver, bladder and stomach. If you take any of these medications, you would be wise to consult your doctor about the best course of action.

Who is responsible?

Nitrosamines impurities can end up in your medication in several ways. Contamination may occur during the manufacturing process or while the drugs are going through packaging. However, it is possible that the chemical structure of the drug itself results in the formation of these dangerous compounds.

It remains to be seen whether the manufacturers, packagers or distributers of Zantac and other contaminated drugs were aware of the dangers and failed to adequately warn consumers. This would have included listing the risks on the packaging, describing the potential side effects in advertising and determining whether the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks. Those facing a cancer diagnosis would be wise to seek more information about its possible connection to the medication they have been taking.