London: Exposure to a so-called `gender-bending` chemical found in plastic bottles and household products is greater than previously thought.
More `Bisphenol A` (BPA) can interfere with the way hormones are processed and so may affect fertility. It is accumulated through diet and is proved to be more dangerous than previous lab tests had shown.
Scientists fear it may mean that humans are at greater risk from the substance, found in the lining of food and drink containers as well as baby bottles and plastic cutlery, reports the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor at the University of Missouri, who carried out the new research, said: "People are primarily and unknowingly exposed to Bisphenol A through the diet because the various plastic and paper containers used to store our food are formulated with BPA."
"We know that the active form of BPA binds to our steroid receptors, meaning it can affect oestrogen, thyroid and testosterone function. It might also cause genetic mutations," he said.
Previous research had been based on giving mice a "single exposure" to the chemical, which is widely used to harden plastic products, according to the an english daily.
But in the new study, the lab animals were given a "steady diet supplemented with BPA throughout the day" in order to mimic the long-term exposure that humans have to it in everyday life.
Researchers found a "significantly greater increase" in the active form of the chemical absorbed and accumulated in the mice which received a steady diet of it, compared with those who received just one dose.