Overview

Arsenic is a trace element. It is found in several foods including seafood, poultry, grains (especially rice), bread, cereal products, mushrooms, and dairy products. Some forms of arsenic are used as medicine. Some forms of arsenic (inorganic arsenic) can have serious side effects.

Healthcare providers sometimes give arsenic trioxide intravenously (by IV) to treat a type of blood cancer called acute promyelocytic leukemia. This arsenic product is available by prescription only.

Arsenic is also used for asthma, cough, pain, swelling (inflammation), and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using arsenic can also be unsafe.

How does it work ?

Arsenic is a trace element that occurs naturally in very small amounts in the diet. Its exact functions are not known. The estimated adult daily intake of arsenic from a typical diet is 12-50 mcg. A dietary requirement of 12-25 mcg/day has been suggested.

In leukemia, arsenic trioxide increases death of cancer cells.

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