People who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux may be familiar with the warnings about Zantac that cropped up in 2019. FDA announced the possible cancer-causing effect of the chemical called N-nitrosodimethylamine or simply NDMA found in the drug.
This chemical is believed to be a contaminant of Zantac whose generic name is ranitidine. Because of the cancer link, there have been other generic ranitidine drugs that were recalled by their manufacturers.
The question though is “how will you know you are at risk for cancer if you have been taking Zantac regularly for heartburn and acid reflux?” The following are the signs and symptoms of cancer from Zantac that patients may need to keep an eye out for if they have been taking it for some time.
Possible Signs You Have Cancer
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. So, you may want to have a check-up with your doctor if you have been regularly taking drugs with the generic name ranitidine for your heartburn or acid reflux symptoms.
Patients may have been taking the over-the-counter ranitidine while those with more severe symptoms of heartburn could have been taking the prescription variant of ranitidine.
Incidentally, you may also want to be tested for gastric cancer, or cancer of the stomach, as well. You can think of this as a precautionary measure because the WHO also indicated that large-volume consumption of NDMA may also trigger gastric 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
Risk Factors and Testing Options To Know About
One of the risk factors that can be completed to determine if you have colon cancer include, but aren’t limited to:
Family History of Colon Cancer – Certain patients may be more at risk for developing colorectal or gastric cancer, compared to others. African-Americans are also risk carriers. You should check with your family members to determine if any of them have been diagnosed with colon cancer in the past.
As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, it is ideal to have yourself checked regularly. The early detection of cancer will help you rule out further complications and plan your next moves. Here are some testing options for the detection of colon cancer:
Taking a Biopsy of Your Colon Through Surgery – If your doctor has done other tests and is convinced you may have colon cancer, the doctor may recommend taking a biopsy of your colon through surgery. The material removed from your colon will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, to determine if it is cancerous.
Blood Tests – This is not a 100% sure way to detect cancer but is used by doctors in some cases to determine the presence of cancer. For colon cancer, it is identified through the presence of a chemical called carcinoembryonic antigen or CEA.
CT Scan – A patient who has already been diagnosed with colorectal cancer may undergo a CT scan to see if cancer has metastasized in other body parts in the same patient.
MRI – The magnetic resonance imaging method or MRI is deemed the best test so far for detecting colorectal cancer in humans.
Check Your Drug’s Contents
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not categorically said that you can contract cancer from Zantac. However, it has issued warnings to companies about the presence of NDMA in heartburn medication, albeit in small amounts.
If you are not sure if your drug is safe, check for the generic name ranitidine in the label or product information insert for your prescription or generic heartburn medication. Take note that you are not supposed to take ranitidine for an extended period of time since it is designed merely as a short-term solution.
Two pharmaceutical companies, namely, Northwind Pharmaceuticals and Apco Pharma LLC have already voluntarily recalled their ranitidine products due to this scare. Other recalls have followed. Zantac is manufactured by the Sanofi company and at one point was a best-selling
If you have been taking Zantac for some time, you should consult your doctor to ask if you are at risk for colon cancer because of the prolonged use of the product. You may have to undergo some tests so that the doctor can determine if you already have colon cancer. Blood tests, in particular, are very important because these may be the first indicators that there is something wrong with you.
If you don’t have colon cancer yet, you may want to ask for another drug so that you can stop taking ranitidine altogether. Take note that there is no definite statement yet from either the FDA or the WHO stating that Zantac causes cancer. So try to avoid panicking and simply have yourself tested first.