Recently, the Food and Drug Administration found that some popular over-the-counter heartburn medications, containing ranitidine, contain low levels of a substance called NDMA that has been classed as a carcinogen (possibly causing cancer). One popular medication, Zantac, has been specifically mentioned in the recall.
You might be wondering whether you should discontinue use of any Zantac or other similar medications that you have around your home. Additionally, you might also feel concerned that you’ve been exposed to cancer-causing agents, and wonder what to do next.
First, it’s important to clarify that “possible carcinogen” just means that a weak link has been shown between the substance and potential for cancer development. The key word is “possible” and nothing has been proven at this point.
Second, the substance contaminated Zantac and other similar medications at extremely low levels. It is unlikely that you, or any other user, were exposed to enough NDMA to actually trigger the development of cancer.
The recall is mostly being conducted out of an abundance of caution. CVS and other drugstores are taking Zantac off of their shelves for now, until we know more about this potential contamination and the actual effects on people who have used the medications.
In the meantime, talk to your doctor about your heartburn symptoms, and ask about medications that are known to be safe for use. He or she can redirect you to another over-the-counter or prescription product if necessary.
If symptoms are mild, you might be interested to know that limiting caffeine and avoiding spicy foods can bring relief to many people. If some alterations to your lifestyle help you avoid heartburn, you could avoid the need for medications in the future.
And of course, continue to attend all preventive cancer screenings. The best way to soothe your anxieties over cancer is to receive a clean bill of health after these procedures.