Zantac and Colon-Rectal Cancer
Zantac and generic ranitidine medications have been found to contain small amounts of a chemical known to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Many of these medications have now been recalled from the market, but they were sold to consumers for years with no warning of any potential cancer dangers.
Chaffin Luhana is currently investigating cases in which patients took Zantac or generic forms of ranitidine and then suffered serious injuries and/or cancer.
Zantac and Generic Ranitidine Contaminated with Carcinogenic Chemical NDMA
For over a year, the FDA has been investigating potential contamination of some medications with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable carcinogen. It started when the FDA became aware that several drug products containing the active ingredient valsartan—used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure—were contaminated with NDMA.
In July 2018, the FDA alerted healthcare professionals and patients of a voluntary recall of many valsartan-containing medications. The agency continued its investigation of the issue and released many additional updates concerning valsartan recalls over the subsequent months.
Then, in September 2019, the FDA alerted doctors and patients that NDMA had been detected in samples of ranitidine (generic Zantac) as well. Since that time, several companies, including Zantac manufacturer Sanofi, have recalled ranitidine medications from the shelves.
The FDA is continuing to investigate potential NDMA contamination in drugs and the potential effects of NDMA on patients who have been taking them.
NDMA Linked with Colorectal Cancer
NDMA was used to create rocket fuel in the U.S. for years until scientists discovered that it was present at high levels in the air, water, and soil samples around rocket fuel manufacturing plants. After that, companies stopped using it purposefully, but the chemical can also be formed as a by-product of other manufacturing processes and may be released from municipal wastewater treatment facilities.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have classified NDMA as probably carcinogenic to humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) also notes that NDMA is positively associated with gastric or colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer (cancer that starts in the colon or rectum) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2019, over 100,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and over 44,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer.
Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is reported to be about 1 in 22 for men and 1 in 24 for women. It is reportedly expected to result in over 50,000 deaths in 2019. Doctors aren’t sure what causes the disease, but they do know that the following factors increase risk:
- older age
- a family history of colon cancer
- ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- sedentary lifestyle
- low-fiber, high-fat diet
- heavy use of alcohol
Studies Show Intake of NDMA Increases Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Scientific studies have connected exposure to NDMA with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In a 1999 study, for example, researchers studied the relationship between intake of NDMA and other similar chemicals, and the risks of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. The study involved nearly 10,000 people, with scientists following them for 24 years.
Results showed a positive association between intake of nitrate, nitrite, and NDMA in foods like salt-preserved fish and meat and smoked meats and risk of colorectal cancer. Individuals who consumed more foods containing these contaminants were at a higher risk. The researchers concluded, “Our results are in line with the idea that N‐nitroso compounds can induce colorectal cancer in humans.”
In a more recent 2014 study, researchers examined the association between intake of these chemicals and colorectal cancer in over 1,700 patients. Results showed that intake of NDMA, in particular, was associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer, specifically rectal cancer. The more foods containing NDMA that people ate, the more their risk increased. Vitamin E was found to be protective against the effects—individuals with high NDMA and low vitamin E were more at risk.
In a related 2019 study, researchers investigated the relationship between drinking water with N-nitroso compounds like NDMA and the incidence of colorectal cancers in over 15,000 postmenopausal women. Results showed that exposure to these chemicals in drinking water was associated with an increased risk of rectal cancer.
After NDMA was discovered in medications containing valsartan, Danish researchers examined the cancer risk in individuals who had been taking these medications. They used national health registry data on over 5,100 patients aged 40 and over who had been using valsartan or started using it over a 5-year period that ended in September 2017.
Results showed that 104 patients with no NDMA exposure were diagnosed with cancer, and 198 who were exposed were also diagnosed. Based on these data, the scientists concluded that the increased short-term risk of cancer in patients who took contaminated valsartan was not significant. When they looked only at colorectal and urine cancers, however, the results were more concerning, and according to the study authors, “speak to the need for additional study.”
The study was limited because it was unable to assess the long-term effects of NDMA exposure from valsartan. In a published editorial accompanying the study, the authors noted, “This study alone cannot dispel doubts about the potential risk for patients in the longer term…”
Now that Zantac and generic ranitidine products have been found to also expose users to NDMA, there are concerns that these medications may present an increased risk of colorectal and other cancers, particularly when used long-term.
Injuries Associated with Zantac (Ranitidine)
Considering the potential exposure to NDMA, the following injuries may be associated with long-term intake of Zantac and generic ranitidine:
- Bladder cancer
- Stomach or gastric cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Colorectal cancer (colon or rectal cancer)
How to File a Zantac Colorectal Cancer Lawsuit
If you took Zantac or ranitidine regularly and were later diagnosed with colorectal or other forms of cancer, you may be eligible to file a Zantac lawsuit to recover damages. Chaffin Luhana is now investigating these cases and invites you to call today at 888-480-1123.