Pharmacies are pulling heartburn medication, Zantac off their shelves out of caution to new information that the drug could have a cancer risk.
This is big. “Why?”, you ask, Zantac, whose generic name is ranitidine is one of the top selling drugs, which means someone you know is probably taking it.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet recalled the drug, although they are the ones who released a statement saying that low levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) were found in some ranitidine medicines, including Zantac. NDMA is a probable human carcinogen, meaning the substance could cause cancer in humans if ingested in large quantities.
The FDA says it’s continuing to investigate but Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid have taken matters into their own hands and stopped selling the drug until the FDA and ranitidine manufacturers figure out wtf is going on.
In the meantime, for those of you taking ranitidine for heartburn, GERD or ulcers, here are a few alternatives to hold you down while you wait for more info.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Having smaller amounts of food in your stomach reduces the amount of stomach acid being produced.
Try sleeping on your left side, that way the stomach hangs down, keeping fluids away from your esophagus.
Try a saltwater gargle. A quarter teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water could help rinse away and neutralize acids in your throat plus relieve the burning sensation. I would only recommend this method if you have occasional heartburn.
Make some heartburn easing tea with freshly grated ginger-root. Make sure the water is boiling, then let the ginger-root sit in there for about 10 minutes. Also, crushed cinnamon and cardamom in teas have been thought to cool the heat of the heartburn. Use a teaspoon of these crushed powders when adding to a cup of water.
Saliva Also helps neutralize stomach acid, so when you feel the heat coming on, chew a piece of sugarless gum or suck on a candy—the goal is to make your body generate excess saliva.
Juices of carrots, cucumbers, and beets are alkaline in nature and could help neutralize the acidic situation in your gut.
I’m pretty sure your doc or pharmacist has gone through these with you, but let me refresh your memory just in case;
Stay upright. Gravity will help keep the acid in the stomach. If you’re a victim of nighttime heart burn, eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. You can also elevate your bed four to six inches with a large wooden block or pillow which you can buy here.
Also, there’s a long list of foods to limit or avoid, which I’m pretty sure you won’t comply with. Let me just say this, if you’re going to eat these foods, try not to eat them right before bedtime because your stomach will be producing acid and lying down will put you at a disadvantage.
Beer, wine, coffee, soda, chocolate, fried/fatty foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits or juices, peppermint and spearmint are just some of the items on the never-ending list.
If you’re convinced that only pills can help your heartburn, you could try other drugs in the H2 Blocker class or try a whole different class. None of those drugs have been cautioned against. Ask your doctor about Pepcid or Nexium.
And finally, if you smoke cigarettes, disregard all the info I just gave you and buy yourself some Zantac. I mean…if we’re talking cancer risks, the cigs will probably get you there faster than the Zantac.
Hope this helps, tell your friends, parents and grandparents.