What Kind of Cancer Does Zantac Cause? Understanding the Link

The brand name Zantac contains the h2 blocker ranitidine, which reduces stomach acid. It comes in the form of tablets, syrup, or granules that patients take orally. Doctors prescribe it to relieve indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, gastric ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They recommend taking the drug 60 minutes before eating heartburn-inducing food.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in some ranitidine products increases with time and temperature. NDMA is a yellow and odorless liquid at room temperature. Companies formerly used it to produce rocket fuel. 

Although the body also produces low levels of NDMA, it can cause serious health risks, such as cancers, at high levels. According to the FDA, an individual may only take 96 nanograms of NDMA daily.

Suppose you experience health problems from Zantac use. You may contact a personal injury attorney to help you seek compensation. You can hold the drugmakers accountable for your medical treatment and ongoing care. You don’t have to bear the burden of Zantac’s adverse effects alone.

Key Takeaways
  • Researchers found that taking Zantac increases cancer risk in the breast, bladder, gastrointestinal tract, colon, rectum, and prostate.
  • Consumers who experienced health problems due to Zantac can file a personal injury case against the drugmakers.
  • In April 2020, the FDA requested manufacturers to recall all ranitidine products due to dangers brought by NDMA.

Types of Cancer Associated With Zantac

In 2019, the FDA alerted patients and healthcare professionals of NDMA impurity in some ranitidine medicines. It investigated NDMA levels in medication due to cancer risk. The kinds of cancer linked with ranitidine and NDMA include cancer of the breast, bladder, gastrointestinal tract, colon, rectum, and prostate. 

The following agencies also classified NDMA as a probable human carcinogen:

Breast cancer

Researchers found that taking Zantac can increase the risk of ductal carcinoma, a type of breast cancer. However, their data does not clearly show the link between ranitidine and ductal carcinoma. Hence, the researchers stated that their findings warrant further study to investigate the relationship between ranitidine and breast cancer risk.

Ductal carcinoma may be invasive or in situ. Ductal carcinoma in situ occurs when abnormal cells develop inside the breast’s milk duct. This type of cancer usually shows no symptoms. However, other patients with DCIS sometimes notice a breast lump or bloody nipple discharge.

In contrast, invasive ductal carcinoma occurs when cancerous cells have already spread into the surrounding breast tissues. The tumor can also spread to the lymph nodes and other body parts. Patients with IDC may experience nipple pain, skin irritation, and breast swelling. They may also notice a thickening of the nipple and a lump close to the armpit.

Bladder cancer

Researchers discovered ranitidine users have an increased risk of bladder cancer by 22 percent. The scientists identified patients taking ranitidine by reviewing their prescription records. 

However, another study contradicted such findings and discovered no significant link between ranitidine and bladder cancer exists. These conflicting results show the need for more studies regarding the link between ranitidine and bladder cancer. 

Bladder cancer occurs when the tumors form in the bladder. Without treatment, the cancer cells may spread to the lymph nodes, bones, and other body parts. Doctors categorize bladder cancer as non-invasive, non-muscle-invasive, and muscle-invasive.

Individuals with bladder cancer may feel pain when peeing. They may also experience frequent urination and notice blood in their urine. Despite taking antibiotics, their bladder infections may not improve. The cancer diagnosis is done through a series of tests, such as urinalysis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and cystoscopy.

Gastrointestinal cancer

A study by Gerald McGwin uncovered that ranitidine contaminated with NDMA is linked with gastrointestinal cancer. The study compared cancer occurrence among ranitidine users and those who use similar medications. The research allowed McGwin to isolate the role of NDMA in gastrointestinal cancer.

The study found that ranitidine use can increase the risk of the following cancers:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer

Esophageal cancer affects the esophagus, a hollow tube connecting your throat to the stomach. Patients with esophageal cancer may experience difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and persistent heartburn. The complications related to esophageal cancer include obstruction in the esophagus and bleeding. Patients may have difficulties eating, resulting in malnutrition. 

In contrast, gastric or stomach cancer can start in any part of the stomach. Its symptoms include belly pain, bloating, trouble swallowing, heartburn, and vomiting blood. However, these signs might not show until the cancer has progressed. Hence, you must consult a doctor once you experience the symptoms.

Research also suggests that ranitidine use may cause pancreatic cancer. It usually starts in the pancreatic ducts. The pancreas aids digestion, so once it is affected, patients may experience bloating, lack of appetite, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Health professionals use a pancreas blood test to detect the presence of cancer cells.

McGwin also noted a high number of ranitidine users have liver cancer. The liver plays a significant role in a person’s health. It removes toxins from the bloodstream and stores nutrients for the intestines. Once its affected, patients may experience jaundice and loss of appetite, which are common symptoms of liver cancer.

Colorectal cancer

McGwin’s research also revealed a strong association between ranitidine drugs and colorectal cancer, which starts in the colon or rectum. The research mentioned another study showing an increased trend between NDMA exposure and rectal cancer.

Despite these findings, researchers emphasized the need for further studies to clarify the relationship between NDMA-contaminated ranitidine and intestinal cancer.

Colon cancer grows in the colon’s inner lining and may spread to other areas. Its symptoms include blood in the stool, belly pain, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. These signs are similar to less serious conditions, so some people might not consider them as symptoms of colon cancer. Doctors usually perform a colonoscopy and biopsy to diagnose colon cancer.

In contrast, rectal cancer develops in the rectum, a part of the large intestine. Individuals with rectal cancer may experience rectal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. They may also notice bright red blood, which indicates that it came from the colon or rectum.

Prostate cancer

A study on NDMA exposure during work hours revealed that the chemical is associated with several cancers, including prostate cancer. Interestingly, it also mentioned that it increased the risk of lung cancer. Although the research mainly involves workers in the rubber industry, it shows the effect of NDMA on human health.

Prostate cancer begins in the prostate gland, a part of the male reproductive system. Symptoms of prostate cancer usually manifest only when the disease has progressed. Its symptoms include frequent urination, pain when peeing, loss of bowel control, and blood in semen. Doctors typically diagnose prostate cancer through a digital rectal exam, MRI, and biopsy.

Patients may undergo surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to prevent the cancer cells from spreading. However, the side effects of treatment may include incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. It is important to contact a healthcare provider for treatment options regarding prostate cancer.

Filing a Personal Injury Case Against Zantac Drugmakers

You must consider the grounds of your claim and possible damages when filing a lawsuit against Zantac’s manufacturer.

Product liability claims

You can invoke the product liability doctrine against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Zantac’s manufacturer, and pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim. Your personal injury claim must prove the following elements:

  • GSK sells a product that the plaintiff uses;
  • GSK is the commercial seller of Zantac;
  • The plaintiff’s injury;
  • GSK sold a defective item; and
  • The defective medication caused the plaintiff’s injury.

One type of defect that creates liability involves marketing flaws. You may argue that GSK failed to warn its customers of the dangers of taking Zantac. As a result, you have taken a cancer-causing medicine without knowing its effects.

The evidence needed in a Zantac cancer lawsuit includes the following:

  • Prescription
  • Receipts
  • Packaging
  • Medical records

The prescription records will show that you took the dangerous drug for a certain period. It can satisfy the first requisite, which involves your product usage. But if you bought over-the-counter (OTC) Zantac, you may submit pharmacy receipts or records. You may also present the original packaging if you’ve kept them. It might be more challenging to prove OTC purchases, but it helps to have evidence of taking Zantac.

You must also prove the resulting injury, which is cancer. You can ask your doctor for medical records showing your diagnosis and the treatment you receive. Moreover, your doctor may testify to your health condition.

Your lawyer can establish the connection between Zantac and the injury through expert witnesses. They may present studies showing the link between NDMA-contaminated ranitidine and cancer types. If you prove the last element, the court will likely rule in your favor.

Your attorney will also take note of the statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Typically, plaintiffs have one to six years to file a Zantac lawsuit.

Recoverable damages

In 2018, US cancer patients paid $5.6 billion out of their pockets to undergo treatment. Meanwhile, plaintiffs in Zantac lawsuits may receive compensation for medical bills to avoid paying from their funds. 

For example, the treatment options for breast cancer include surgery and chemotherapy. Aside from these procedures, the patient must also take medications. The injured party may demand reimbursement for these expenses from GSK.

Similarly, chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, preventing the injured party from going to work. It leads to loss of income, which the plaintiff can also request reimbursement from ranitidine drug makers. The lost income may include bonuses, commissions, and other benefits.

Cancer can negatively alter a person’s quality of life. Likewise, plaintiffs in Zantac lawsuits may recover compensation for pain and suffering and emotional trauma. Despite removing cancer cells, some treatment options may be exhausting and painful for patients.

If a loved one died due to Zantac, you may file a wrongful death suit and demand payment for funeral expenses. You can also receive compensation for medical expenses, loss of earning opportunities, and pain and suffering.

Pending Zantac Lawsuits

There is an existing multidistrict litigation (MDL) for thousands of plaintiffs in Zantac lawsuits. It differs from a class action which combines cases for the entire process. 

The Zantac MDL seeks to consolidate the discovery and pretrial stages of claims regarding the probable carcinogen in the heartburn medication. However, the court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to produce reliable expert testimony.

Despite this setback, it does not mark the end of Zantac’s claims. It should motivate legal counsels to investigate more into ranitidine and NDMA’s link to cancer. Lawyers can also appeal to the higher court, which can set a precedent regarding similar claims.

Ranitidine Recalls in the US

The FDA announced several recalls involving ranitidine drugmakers:

  • Sandoz Inc.
  • Aurobindo Pharma USA
  • Glenmark Pharmaceutical Inc.
  • Mylan nizatidine capsules
  • American Health Packaging
  • Amneal Pharmaceutical

In April 2020, the FDA requested manufacturers to withdraw ranitidine drugs from the market. The agency published the announcement due to the presence of NDMA in ranitidine products. Consequently, the high NDMA levels led to Zantac cancer allegations from consumers.

Did you know?

Bloomberg reported that scientists can mutate mice cells using less than a milligram of NDMA. Moreover, two grams of the chemical can kill a person.

Hire a Reputable Lawyer for Your Zantac Lawsuit

Taking medications without proper warning labels can endanger a person’s health. Similarly, individuals taking Zantac were unaware the medication contained a probable carcinogen. As a result, thousands of plaintiffs accused pharmaceutical companies of causing their health problems.

Suppose you have taken Zantac and are concerned about its potential cancer risk. You may visit The Personal Injury Center for free legal information. Learn about defective products and the corresponding legal action to recover damages. We offer a free consultation and can help you find a lawyer who has handled cases regarding defective medications.

Find a lawyer through The Personal Injury Center to recover compensation for injuries you may have sustained from defective drugs. Contact us today.

FAQs About Zantac and Its Risks

You can take the following medicines instead of Zantac:

  • esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • lansoprazole (Prevacid)

You can pollute the lakes and streams unintentionally. As a result, more people and animals could be exposed to high levels of NDMA.

You can pursue a Zantac lawsuit without paying up-front fees. The Personal Injury Center can help you find a contingency attorney who will take up to 50 percent of the recovery amount for legal fees.