Zantac is an over-the-counter medication used to treat excess stomach acid and stomach ulcers. Dangerously high levels of a chemical compound found in Zantac may increase the risk of cancer.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about Zantac and other forms of the medication ranitidine. Research studies had found evidence that a chemical in Zantac called N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) might be linked to kidney cancer.

Zantac and most other forms of ranitidine were voluntarily recalled as a result of the FDA warning. In 2020, the FDA formally requested the removal of all ranitidine projects from stores. Studies into this probable link are still being conducted.

In this article, we take a closer look at Zantac, the chemical NDMA, and its link to kidney cancer.

What is Zantac?

Zantac is a medication that reduces the acid in your stomach. Zantac is a brand-name version of ranitidine. It belongs to a group of medications called histamine-2 blockers.

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Like other medications in this class, Zantac has been used to treat conditions such as stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

NDMA is a chemical compound that is found at low levels in water, dairy products, meat, and other foods. The FDA classifies NDMA as a probable carcinogen. The compound is thought to cause cancer in humans when there’s sustained high exposure.

The low levels of NDMA sometimes found in water and food aren’t enough to cause cancer. However, the level of NDMA in Zantac is higher and is linked to cancer.

The FDA found potentially dangerous levels of NDMA in Zantac and in generic ranitidine. Additional research showed that certain circumstances can increase the level of NDMA in ranitidine. For example, the levels of NDMA can rise when ranitidine is stored at high temperatures.

Many ranitidine products are exposed to these high temperatures during manufacturing, shipping, storage, and in consumers’ homes. Additionally, the FDA found that levels of NDMA can increase as ranitidine ages. Either of these conditions can cause the level of NDMA to be higher than is safe for human consumption.

Not all studies have proven a link between ranitidine and kidney cancer. Although it’s a proven carcinogen in animals, more evidence is needed before this link is confirmed in humans.

Some studies have found evidence of a link between ranitidine and kidney cancer, but the results haven’t been consistent across all studies. Current evidence has been enough to prompt a recall of all ranitidine products, but more studies are still needed.

In 2019, the FDA issued a warning about the dangers of Zantac and generic ranitidine. As a result, manufacturers of Zantac and other ranitidine products voluntarily recalled their products. In 2020, the FDA requested the recall of any remaining products containing ranitidine.

The results of testing done by the FDA and independent labs confirming the presence of NDMA in Zantac and its possible harm to humans have led to lawsuits against Zantac.

Zantac is possibly linked to thousands of cases of cancer, and evidence of the NDMA in Zantac has been used to build a negligence suit against the manufacturer of Zantac. The lawsuit alleges that Zantac failed to appropriately warn the public, the government, and healthcare providers about the amount of NDMA in their product.

Zantac isn’t the only medication that contains NDMA. The chemical compound is also found in several over-the-counter and prescription medications. This includes:

Not everyone who has taken Zantac will get kidney cancer. However, if you’ve taken Zantac regularly and are concerned about kidney cancer, it’s a good idea to know the signs and symptoms.

Kidney cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do occur, they can include:

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have kidney cancer. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other, less serious, conditions. However, it’s still best to see a doctor if you’ve had any of these symptoms for more than a week or two.

A doctor can conduct kidney function and other tests to find the cause of your symptoms and begin treatment. Kidney cancer is most treatable when it is found in its early stages.

Kidney cancer develops when there are mutations in the DNA of kidney cells. Doctors and researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes these changes to occur. However, there are some known risk factors. Taking Zantac is believed to be one of them. Additional risk factors include:

  • Smoking: Smokingincreases the risk of several types of cancer, including kidney cancer.
  • High blood pressure: People with high blood pressure have a higher risk of kidney cancer.
  • Obesity: There is a link between obesity and a higher risk of kidney cancer.
  • Family history: People with a sibling or other close family members who had kidney cancer are at an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • Gender: Kidney cancer is about twice as common in people assigned male at birth.
  • Race: The risk of kidney cancer is slightly higher for black and indigenous Americans than it is for other ethnic and racial groups.
  • Workplace exposure: People who’ve been exposed to chemicals, such as trichloroethylene in the workplace, are at an increased risk of kidney cancer.
  • Acetaminophen: Taking Tylenol or other products that contain acetaminophen is linked to a higher risk of kidney cancer.
  • Advanced kidney disease: People with advanced kidney disease who receive dialysis treatment are at a higher risk for kidney cancer.
  • Inherited conditions: There are several inherited conditions that increase the risk of kidney cancer, including von Hippel-Lindau disease, family renal cancer, hereditary papillary and hereditary leiomyoma renal carcinoma, Brit-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome, Cowden syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis.

Is Zantac still available?

Zantac is no longer available in its original form. However, in 2022, a product called Zantac 360 became available for sale in the United States. This form of Zantac contains famotidine instead of ranitidine, but it treats the same conditions as the original Zantac.

Is NDMA-contaminated Zantac linked to other cancers?

Zantac has been linked to several types of cancer. This includes:

These links haven’t been confirmed in all studies. More research is needed.

How many people have developed kidney cancer from taking Zantac?

The exact number of cases of kidney cancer directly linked to Zantac is unknown. There are claims that the number is over 7,000, but this is an estimate.

At this time, NDMA is classed as a probable carcinogen. This means that the FDA is still investigating this link, and full data is not available. Not all studies have found a strong link between Zantac and kidney cancer. Additionally, even if more data becomes available, it might be difficult to link older cases of kidney cancer to Zantac.

What should I do if I’ve taken Zantac and have kidney cancer?

If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer and believe it might be linked to Zantac, talk with your doctor. It’s important to discuss past medications, including Zantac, with your doctor. It’s also important to keep copies of all your medical records. They might be needed if you file a claim.

At this time, suits have only been filed against the manufacturers of the brand name medication Zantac. No lawsuits against the makers of any generic ranitidine products are in progress.

You might qualify for the lawsuit if you took Zantac for at least a year and your kidney cancer was diagnosed within 20 years of taking Zantac. If you believe you have a case, contact a lawyer. They can tell you if your case meets legal requirements and about the steps you need to take in your state.

Is kidney cancer curable?

Kidney cancer is very treatable when it is diagnosed early. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for early stage kidney cancer was 93% between 2011 and 2017.

Like all cancers, kidney cancer is harder to treat in the later stages. Late stage kidney cancer had a 5-year survival rate of 14% between 2011 and 2017. The overall 5-year survival rate for kidney cancer was 76%.

Keep in mind that these statistics are based on data gathered between 2011 and 2017. Treatments for kidney cancer have improved in the past half-decade, and it’s likely that current survival rates are higher.

Zantac and other products containing ranitidine were recalled from store shelves in 2019. A chemical compound found in Zantac called NDMA is classified as a probable carcinogen.

Studies conducted by the FDA and other labs have found a link between high levels of NDMA and cancer. Studies have also found that Zantac contains more than recommended daily amounts of NDMA, especially when it’s stored in hot temperatures or for an extended time.

If you have kidney cancer and believe that it might be linked to Zantac, talk with a doctor. It’s also a good idea to contact a lawyer who can tell you the status of Zantac lawsuits in your state.