Thyroid cancer may be associated with long-term intake of the popular heartburn drug Zantac

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on March 04th, 2020

NDMA is an unstable organic chemical very toxic to the human body, recognized as a potent human carcinogen since the 1970s. The use of certain drugs containing NDMA has the potential to interfere with various steps of thyroid hormone metabolism which may influence cancer risk.

N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) also known as dimethylnitrosamine (DMN), is formally classified as a carcinogen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning that it has the potential to cause cancers to form, and it was detected in ranitidine medications during some routine testing.

The discovery of NDMA in Zantac, a very popular antiacid drug that has been around since the 1980s, came as a shock to everyone, except for the drug manufacturers that may have suspected this problem for years but concealed it from the public. Levels of NDMA have ranged from low to alarmingly high and this wide discrepancy makes it unclear how the contamination is occurring, leaving the FDA wondering if any versions of the medication are safe for consumers.

Uptake of NDMA disrupts the functioning of the human thyroid gland

The presence of NDMA in the most commonly prescribed heartburn drug, which is sold under the trade name Zantac among others, has prompted massive safety recalls, both voluntary and at the direction of the FDA.

Several drugs, including heartburn medication, may interfere at different levels, with the regulation of thyroid function. Many over-the-counter drugs affect directly thyroid function by interfering with the synthesis, transport and metabolism of thyroid hormones, or by altering the synthesis and secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone TSH. The possible effect of these drugs on the thyroid function must always be considered in decisions regarding patient care.

A small subset of medications you may be taking could affect the absorption of your thyroid hormones. Many disorders, especially gastrointestinal disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or peptic ulcer, may impede the absorption of thyroid hormones you may have been prescribed to treat and prevent certain types of thyroid tumors.

Along with affecting hormone absorption, medications for other health conditions may have a direct effect on the thyroid functional status in numerous ways:

  • Destroy thyroid cells and tissue
  • Alter the synthesis and/or secretion of thyroid hormones that regulate many crucial bodily functions
  • Affect the immune processes of the thyroid gland
  • Interfere with hormone action at the target tissue

Knowledge of drugs that increase the risk of thyroid cancer would lead to early diagnosis and treatment

One of the functions of the thyroid gland is to produce hormones that play a major role in the metabolism, growth and development of the human body. Thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that starts when healthy cells in the thyroid change and grow out of control, forming a mass of tissue. Thyroid cancer tends to grow without many obvious signs or symptoms.

Thyroid cancer usually appears as a painless lump within the thyroid gland. Some signs that a thyroid nodule may be cancerous include:

  • Presence of a solitary thyroid nodule rather than multiple nodules
  • Thyroid scan reveals the nodule is cold or non-functioning
  • The thyroid mass is solid instead of fluid-filled
  • Malignant thyroid nodules grow faster compared with benign thyroid nodules

The doctor correlates the physical findings with your medical history and reported symptoms in order to determine a diagnosis and devise the treatment plan. The first signs of a cancerous nodule in the thyroid may include:

  • A lump at the base of your neck
  • A hoarse voice
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain in the throat or neck

However, other conditions or medical problems such as Lyme disease, Grave's disease or benign multinodular goiter, exhibit similar symptoms which may lead to an incorrect diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is very treatable in many instances, but effective treatment depends on timely diagnosis. To make an accurate diagnosis, your doctor needs to know about all of the medicines you take, including nonprescription drugs.

Call Environmental Litigation Group for a free consultation on your Zantac claim

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer after using Zantac or ranitidine medications, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

People who may be eligible for compensation include those who took Zantac prescription or over-the-counter medication regularly for at least 60 days and developed thyroid cancer or other types of cancer. Keep all the documents relevant to the case including medical bills, doctors' notes and any other evidence that will support your demand for compensation. This evidence will help determine the compensation that you will get. We provide Zantac case review to anyone who fills out our evaluation form or calls our offices, under no obligation to retain our services after the first consultation.