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Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Heartburn Medication

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a press statement last week alerting the public of carcinogens found in ranitidine medications, including those sold under the popular brand name Zantac. According to the FDA, the drugs contain low levels of a nitrosamine impurity, called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) — an environmental contaminant classified as a probable human carcinogen.

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NDMA was originally produced in the U.S. and used to make rocket fuel. It was discontinued when the chemical was detected in air, water and soil samples and was found to contribute to the development of liver and lung cancer. Consumption is also known to cause severe liver damage accompanied by internal bleeding, and potentially death.

Since last year, the FDA has been investigating impurities in blood pressure and heart medications known as angiotensin receptor blockers, which has led to multiple recalls. Valsartan, a popular blood pressure medication, was recalled last year after testing reveled it contained the same carcinogen — NDMA.

Despite the carcinogen found in Zantac, the FDA did not ask the public to stop taking ranitidine medications. The statement reads, “The FDA is not calling for individuals to stop taking ranitidine at this time; however, patients taking prescription ranitidine who wish to discontinue use should talk to their health care professional about other treatment options. People taking OTC ranitidine could consider using other OTC medicines approved for their condition. There are multiple drugs on the market that are approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine.”

Antacid drugs are among the most widely prescribed medications in the world, despite the side effects and health risks associated with them. Unfortunately, the drugs are so common that they’re handed out for countless cases of mild indigestion, heartburn and even for “preventive” measures. But these drugs not only are vastly overused, they’re very dangerous as well and in many cases will only make the underlying problem worse.

Safe, natural alternatives for heartburn and acid reflux include:

Consuming probiotics and fermented foods such as natto and kefir

Eliminating food triggers

Increasing your body’s natural production of stomach acid

Taking a hydrochloric acid supplement

Avoiding processed foods and sugar

Optimizing your vitamin D levels