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Four Ways Zantac (Ranitidine) Leads To Cancer

Four Ways Zantac (Ranitidine) Leads To Cancer

Huntsville Accident & Injury AttorneysI’ve written several articles discussing Ranitidine (brand name Zantac) and cancer injuries. For a longer discussion on the background and history of Zantac, you can click the link and read our report at Zantac Cancer Lawsuits. I’ve also written several other Zantac articles which you can read on the Blackwell Law Firm Blog. We will continue to follow the growing Zantac research linking the drug to cancer injuries.

In my prior articles, I provided an overview of NDMA — the cancer causing substance associated with Zantac. No safe level of NDMA exists. NDMA is highly toxic. Ranitidine (Zantac) breaks down to create toxic, cancer-causing NDMA. In recent years, our firm has handled Alabama injury cases involving several different cancer-causing medications. But, Zantac is especially dangerous. Why? What makes Zantac so dangerous is that it breaks down in more than one way to put consumers at risk of injury. In other words, Ranitidine reacts in multiple ways to produce cancer causing NDMA. Here, are four ways Ranitidine leads to cancer-causing NDMA that can harm you:


Ranitidine belongs to a class of medications known as histamine H2 receptor antagonists (or H2 blockers) which decrease the amount of acid produced by cells lining the stomach. Because ranitidine decreases acid production in the stomach, it became a blockbuster antacid medication. Sales boomed. The drug quickly became one of the best-selling medications in the world. Zantac generated blockbuster sales for pharmaceutical companies for many, many years.

This sounds great — A miracle medication for heartburn and reflux! Like many drugs marketed as miracle solutions for a specific ailment, the cost in terms of lives and injuries is often very high. That cost is usually only revealed after many, many consumers are injured. With Zantac, the chemistry is a bad problem. Over the years, this chemistry put many consumers at risk for life-threatening cancers. When the Ranitidine molecule meets the acidic environment of the human stomach and nitrites (chemical commonly found in heartburn producing foods), a chemical reaction can occur. That reaction produces NDMA. Think about the chemistry — When you use Zantac as intended, you actually create the conditions needed to produce cancer-causing NDMA in the body.

Were the drug companies aware of this basic chemical reaction in the human stomach? As early as 1981, a researcher had published his study showing the toxic impact of exposing human gastric fluids to Ranitidine and nitrites. Yet, drug makers turned a blind eye to the science. These companies continued to rapidly market and produce Zantac to consumers specifically as a heartburn and antacid medication. Many people innocently used Zantac thinking it was a beneficial medication.


The chemistry between Ranitidine and the human stomach has long been clear. While this is the primary chemical reaction, can NDMA also be formed in other bodily organs? Can our bodies react to produce Ranitidine in other organs as well?

In recent years, a laboratory Valisure has studied the reactions between Ranitidine and other human enzymes. That lab identified a potential reaction between Ranitidine and a specific enzyme (DDAH) that occurs in other bodily organs to create NDMA.

Should the drug companies have studied the reaction between Ranitidine and common bodily enzymes? Should the drug companies have known about this potential harmful human reaction? Absolutely. A scientific study discussing the discovery of DDAH in the late 1980s comments on the propensity of the human enzyme DDAH to form NDMA. Yet, drug makers turned a blind eye to the science. The drug companies continued to heavily market their blockbuster medication. Profits continued to soar.


Heat. Time. Think about the different medications you use. Were they exposed to heat during the packaging, transportation and storage processes? Ask yourself — How long did the medication sit on a hot truck? How long did the medication sit in a hot warehouse? How long did it sit on a shelf? Where has it been before reaching your medicine cabinet?

We expect our consumer products to remain stable. We expect them to arrive in our homes and medicine cabinets safe for use. Studies from the early 1980s demonstrated NDMA was formed when ranitidine was exposed to heat. Did these early studies prompt any concern from the drug companies rushing Ranitidine products to market? No.

More recent studies reveal NDMA levels in ranitidine reach unacceptable levels with normal transport, normal storage and normal time conditions. This research indicates Ranitidine may already contain dangerous levels of NDMA before it reaches your stomach.


In recent years, product contamination has become a major issue. Toys. Household Products. Foods. Medications. A wide variety of imported products (often from China) contain dangerous contamination. This contamination is the result of cheap production processes with little regulatory oversight.

With medications, our FDA has discovered NDMA contamination in a variety of drugs manufactured in China and India. In the last few years, these discoveries have prompted numerous drug recalls.

According to some research, around 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients actually used to make drugs in the U.S. come from China and India. The FDA has investigated issues related to NDMA contamination in our medications. Investigators believe NDMA made its way into numerous medications through the use of recovered or cheaper solvents used in the manufacturing process. In other words, cheaper and contaminated manufacturing ingredients (especially from China) put American patients at risk of NDMA. This risk extended beyond Ranitidine.


While my earlier articles provide a history and overview of Zantac and potential cancer injuries, I wanted to describe the research about the drug reactions that actually produce carcinogenic NDMA. The chemical NDMA was discovered years ago as a byproduct of rocket fuel. NDMA is not produced commercially in the United States except for use in cancer-research. Over many years, studies have linked NDMA to numerous cancers.

Zantac has now been removed from our store shelves. But, for many people, the damage is already done. Scientific research show potential links between Zantac and numerous cancers. How many patients have suffered from this dangerous drug?

If you have questions about Zantac and a potential Alabama personal injury, let us know. We are investigating numerous cases on behalf of patients in Huntsville and throughout Alabama. We are happy to answer your questions. Consultations are always free and confidential.


From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm handles serious personal injury cases across Alabama. Our firm practices exclusively in the area of accident and injury law. We focus all our time and attention on one area of the law so that we can best help our injured clients.