How Does Arsenic Affect Body Organs?


Quick Answer

Arsenic affects body organs by disrupting essential biochemical reactions driven by enzymatic action. Exposure to toxic levels of arsenic may result in diseases related to the stomach, liver, kidney, heart, lungs, brain, blood, skin and reproductive organs. Arsenic poisoning may also prove fatal due to multiple organ failure.

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Arsenic is the 20th most predominant chemical element found on Earth's crust. It is a nutritional requirement in the body in minute quantities. However, arsenic is considered to be poisonous in higher concentrations, even resulting in death in some cases. The manner of absorption can be through skin and lung penetration or via ingestion. When toxic levels of arsenic and its derivative compounds are circulated throughout the body by the bloodstream, around 200 enzymes are denatured, which drastically alters normal cellular processes. Enzymes, which are catalytic proteins that increase the reaction rates of biochemical processes, lose their vital functions when they become denatured. Once the enzymes are inhibited, the cells die and the bodily organs are severely damaged.

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include fatigue, insomnia, trembling, posterior limb paralysis, gastrointestinal pain, convulsions, disorientation and motor dysfunction. These manifestations are somewhat similar to other illnesses and may require medical diagnosis to ascertain whether arsenic poisoning is the underlying cause. Common diseases associated with chronic arsenic poisoning include skin, liver and lung cancer, keratoses, localized edema and cardiac degeneration.

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