One thing in life that we trust implicitly is the medications that our doctors prescribe us and their tendency to help improve our situations rather than harm us further. Unfortunately, there has recently been a recall of the medication Zantac, a well-known heartburn treatment, because it was revealed to contain the potentially harmful carcinogen N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
What is NDMA
NDMA is a carcinogen, which means that it has the potential to cause cancers. It was originally manufactured for rocket fuel, but was later used only for research purposes as it was revealed that the air, soil, and water in the areas of the plants were being contaminated by the ingredient. It is a yellow liquid, and has no discernible odor.
In high dosages, the carcinogen can be harmful if a human digests it. While the trace amounts found in the FDA’s test of the medication was not enough to cause damage, there was a study conducted that found the amount of NDMA increased over time, especially when left out in a space higher than room temperature. As a result, the FDA thought it was wise to recall all ranitidine medications off the shelves of pharmacies, as well as stopping the manufacturers from selling their products.
Symptoms of Overexposure to NDMA
Knowing what symptoms to look for can be tricky. We are typically not searching for adverse side effects from medications, rather looking to the drugs to stave off symptoms. However, in this case, the script is flipped, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a list of ways in which you can tell if you have been overexposed to NDMA:
An enlarged liver
Reduced function of the liver, kidneys, and lungs
If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Zantac, alert your doctor immediately and report the instance to the MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting website that the FDA has established.
What Are My Rights?
It is important to know what your rights are in the case that you experience adverse effects from prolonged exposure to the NDMA in Zantac.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as probably carcinogenic and its studies strongly link a high intake with gastric and colorectal cancer, but as the organization considered complete daily intake of the substance, it does not link it to any single route of exposure.
In order to qualify for a Zantac injury settlement, there would have to be a positive link between health complications such as cancer that you have experienced and taking the medication.
There are, of course, other ways in which you can be exposed to NDMA, including:
- Ingesting food that contains nitrosamines, such as smoked or cured meats and fish
Ingesting food that contains alkylamines, which can cause NDMA to form in the stomach
Drinking contaminated water
Drinking malt beverages (such as beer and whiskey) that may contain low levels of nitrosamines formed during processing
Using toiletry and cosmetic products such as shampoos and cleansers that contain NDMA
Breathing or inhaling cigarette smoke.
You may also be vulnerable if you work at tanneries, pesticide manufacturing plants, and rubber and tire plants.