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Is there a link between heartburn and cancer?

If you enjoy spicy foods or alcoholic beverages, you might experience heartburn on occasion. Although you know that burning acid reflux is a temporary nuisance, you likely reach for medications such as Zantac as quickly as possible to ease your symptoms.

While those instances are irritating enough, consider having continual heartburn due to ulcers or throughout a pregnancy. Worse yet, imagine if the medicine you trusted to minimize your symptoms caused a much more severe medical condition.

Recent research suggests that Zantac may contain carcinogenic ingredients. And while test results show minute amounts of potential cancer-causing contaminants in the medication, you might agree you should be able to trust FDA-approved drugs.

Precautionary Zantac recall

Australian regulators allegedly express minimal concern about the potential carcinogenic contamination of Zantac, also known as ranitidine. Though they recalled the drug in October, they report doing so was precautionary.
Of the 135 batches of medicine tested, roughly 75% contained increased levels of “NDMA.” And though your risk of developing cancer from taking the drug may be minimal, you would probably rather treat your symptoms with products proven to affect your health positively.

What is NDMA?

N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is a by-product of industrial processes. Present in some pesticides, NDMA may form through the manufacturing of a rocket fuel component or the chlorination of some wastewater.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • NDMA is toxic in living organisms as well as in artificial environments
  • Animal experiments demonstrate NDMA as carcinogenic
  • Studies support assumptions that the consumption of NDMA is associated with colorectal or gastric cancers

Though product recalls began in Australia, federal regulators now encourage Americans to use alternative medications to treat their heartburn. While drug manufacturers are advised to recall their ranitidine voluntarily, it may be interesting to see how many people seek to hold the companies who produce and market the product accountable for their negligence.

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