Last update March 30, 2023

White Arsenic


Very unsafe. Contraindicated. Use of an alternative or cessation of breastfeeding. Read the Commentary.

Inorganic form of arsenic used for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. Intravenous administration. A daily dose until remission or a maximum of 50-60 days and then 5 weekly doses for 4 to 5 weeks, several cycles separated by 4 weeks of rest. (EMA 2018)

Since the last update, we have not found published data on its excretion in breastmilk.

During cancer treatment, breastfeeding must be interrupted due to potentially serious side effects for the infant.

It is known from pharmacokinetics that after 3 elimination half-lives (T½) 87.5% of the drug is eliminated from the body; after 4 T½ 94% is eliminated, after 5 T½ 96.9%, after 6 T½ 98.4% and after 7 T½ 99%. From 7 T½ the plasma concentrations of the drug in the body are negligible. In general, a period of at least five half-lives can be considered a safe waiting period before breastfeeding again.(Anderson 2016)

Although expert authors report waiting times before breastfeeding of 1 week after the last dose (LactMed 2018), taking into account the long half-life of the DMA metabolite (70 hours), it seems more prudent, as indicated by the manufacturer (Teva 2018), to wait 15 days (5 T½ of the metabolite DMA and 25 T½ of the parent compound) after the last dose to restart breastfeeding. Meanwhile, express and discard breast milk regularly in order to maintain production.

When it is possible to do so, the milk detections of each patient to determine the total elimination of the drug are the best indicator to be able to resume breastfeeding between two cycles of chemotherapy.

Continued and long treatment cycles make it very difficult to continue with breastfeeding.

Some chemotherapeutic agents with an antibiotic effect can alter the composition of the microbiota (bacterial set or bacterial flora) of the milk and the concentration of some of its components (Urbaniak 2014). This possibly occurs temporarily with subsequent recovery, although no harmful effects are assumed or reported in breastfed infants.

Women undergoing chemotherapy during pregnancy have lower rates of breastfeeding due to difficulties in breastfeeding (Stopenski 2017), needing more support to achieve it.

Given the strong evidence that exists on the benefits of breastfeeding for the development of babies and the health of mothers, it is advisable to evaluate the risk-benefit of any maternal treatment, including chemotherapy, individually advising each mother that wishes to continue with breastfeeding.(Koren 2013)

See below the information of this related product:

  • Maternal Cancer (Unsafe. Moderate/severe adverse effects. Compatible under certain circumstances. Follow-up recommended. Use safer alternative or discontinue breastfeeding from 5 to 7 T ½ . Read Commentary.)


We do not have alternatives for White Arsenic.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

White Arsenic is also known as Arsenic Trioxide.

White Arsenic in other languages or writings:


White Arsenic belongs to these groups or families:


Main tradenames from several countries containing White Arsenic in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight 197 daltons
Protein Binding 75 %
VD 5.7 l/Kg
Tmax 5 hours
14; DMA: 70 hours


  1. Teva. Arsenic Trioxide. Drug Summary. 2018 Full text (in our servers)
  2. EMA. Arsénico trióxido (Trisenox). Ficha técnica. 2018 Full text (in our servers)
  3. EMA. Arsenic Trioxid. Drug Summary. 2018 Full text (in our servers)
  4. LactMed. Arsenic Trioxide. Full Record Display. 2018 Full text (in our servers)
  5. Stopenski S, Aslam A, Zhang X, Cardonick E. After Chemotherapy Treatment for Maternal Cancer During Pregnancy, Is Breastfeeding Possible? Breastfeed Med. 2017 Mar;12:91-97. Abstract
  6. Anderson PO. Cancer Chemotherapy. Breastfeed Med. 2016 May;11:164-5. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  7. Urbaniak C, McMillan A, Angelini M, Gloor GB, Sumarah M, Burton JP, Reid G. Effect of chemotherapy on the microbiota and metabolome of human milk, a case report. Microbiome. 2014 Jul 11;2:24. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. Koren G, Carey N, Gagnon R, Maxwell C, Nulman I, Senikas V; Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Cancer chemotherapy and pregnancy. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2013 Mar;35(3):263-278. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  9. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  10. Shen ZX, Chen GQ, Ni JH, Li XS, Xiong SM, Qiu QY, Zhu J, Tang W, Sun GL, Yang KQ, Chen Y, Zhou L, Fang ZW, Wang YT, Ma J, Zhang P, Zhang TD, Chen SJ, Chen Z, Wang ZY. Use of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL): II. Clinical efficacy and pharmacokinetics in relapsed patients. Blood. 1997 Abstract

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