Zantac (Ranitidine) has recently been recalled due to a probable carcinogen found in slightly higher than expected levels in a batch of the product. This recall is a voluntary act of social responsibility by the company, however the mainstream media and social media representations have incited panic with sensationalised headlines like “FDA says heartburn drug Zantac could cause cancer.”
The literature shows that patients don’t discern risk well when it comes to comparing medical treatments and evaluating healthcare options. Patients are meant to give informed consent about the treatments they receive, but they are at the mercy of their providing physicians and the media to get science information about the risks and benefits of their proposed treatments. These kinds of communication tactics and incomplete representation of science information in the media contribute to medical distrust, confusion, and panic that prevent good healthcare decision-making.