How Does Chemotherapy Affect the Gastrointestinal Tract?
The gastrointestinal tract is lined by a group of cells collectively called the epithelium. These are the fastest growing cells in the body. In fact, they grow so fast that the intestinal lining regenerates itself every five to seven days.
Cancer cells are also fast growing.
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to target the growth mechanisms of fast-growing cells. Therefore, in addition to targeting cancer cells, they also target the epithelium resulting in gastrointestinal issues like ulcer formation in the stomach and the intestines.
Zantac is often recommended to patients to help manage these issues.
NDMA Discovered in Zantac
There had been some previous studies that suggested that there were high levels of NDMA in Zantac but things really came to a head in 2019 when the online pharmaceutical company Valisure was testing the product.
Valisure tests all its products before putting them on the market to ensure they live up to the high standards the ISO (International Standards Organization) accredited company enforces. When testing Zantac, Valisure found levels of NDMA that exceeded the FDA daily limit by more than 3,000 times.
As a result of these findings, Valisure petitioned the FDA to remove Zantac and all other ranitidine (the active ingredient in Zantac) products from the market.
Valisure’s findings showed that ranitidine’s molecular structure is made up of a nitrate group (N) and a dimethylamine (DMA). When ingested, these two elements are broken down making the DMA free to recombine with the nitrite groups from ranitidine or those that already exist in the stomach to form NDMA.
Zantac and Chemotherapy
Cancer patients are often prescribed Zantac before starting chemotherapy. The drug has been effective in treating symptoms related to chemotherapy included the following:
- Heartburn and GERD (Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease) which result from the effects chemotherapy has on the digestive tract.
- Difficulty swallowing which is a symptom of GERD. This makes it hard for patients to clear the stomach acids that back up into the esophagus as a result of their gastrointestinal issues.
- Inflammation and ulcers in the mucous membranes of the stomach and the intestines.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to Zantac that are also effective in treating these symptoms and do not contain NDMA. These include the following:
- Other Histamine Blockers: Zantac is classified as a histamine blocker, a type of drug that can treat gastric ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues. Pepcid and Tagemet are other histamine blockers that can be used instead of Zantac.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s): PPI’s work to protect the mucous membrane layer of the stomach but prolonged use can lead to kidney disease, heart attack and dementia. Some can also have adverse interaction with chemotherapy drugs. PPI’s that can be used instead of Zantac include Prilosec, Nexium and Protonix.
Dietary and behavioral changes can also minimize GERD symptoms. Patients are advised to avoid spicy and acidic foods, alcoholic beverages and coffee. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating smaller meals, not smoking and raising the head of the bed 5 to 8 inches when you sleep can also be effective.
The FDA and Zantac
The FDA has released warnings to the public regarding Zantac’s potential to be damaging to health. However, many feel they have downplayed how dangerous the drug truly is.
The FDA’s press release can be quoted as follows, “ranitidine medicines…contain a nitrosamine impurity called N-nitrosodimethlyamine (NDMA) at low levels.”
However, the truth is that the levels of NDMA in the medication are quite high. Furthermore, the term impurity makes it seem as if the medication is somehow contaminated when its harmful qualities are inherent making it dangerous by design.
The FDA never issued a recall for Zantac or other ranitidine medicines. However, drug makers and retail stores around the world are pulling these medications from their shelves. Major retail stores like Walgreens, Walmart, Rite-Aid and CVS have all stopped carrying the drug and drug manufacturers like Apotex and Sandoz, Inc. have issued recalls.
Taking Action Against Zantac
If you or a loved one has taken Zantac to treat the symptoms of chemotherapy or for any other reason and it has affected your quality of life, you need to take action. The right lawyer can help you get compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and emotional pain and suffering.
Zantac knew their products contained dangerous levels of a cancer causing chemical, yet they continued to make it available to millions of innocent people. Don’t let them get away with it.
Call a reliable Zantac lawyer to get the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.
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