The chemical, also known as BPA, is commonly found in plastic products around the world. The new study comes on the heels of research released earlier this month that found high amounts of BPA are present in everyday cash register receipts, as much as 3% of the total weight of the receipt.
"The results are important because they provide a first report in a large-scale human population of associations between elevated exposure to BPA and alterations in circulating hormone levels," the authors wrote. "They also illustrate that the extent of exposure to BPA is similar in this European mixed urban and rural population to exposures seen in the general adult population of the USA."
BPA is found in plastic food and drink containers, even some baby bottles. It may leach out of the plastic into food. The chemical is called an "endocrine disruptor" because it alters human hormone levels, which can contribute to illness and disease. The hormonelike effects of the chemical may be especially dangerous to infants or during fetal development. The Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier this year that it will add BPA to its ''chemical concern'' list due to potential environmental effects.
The study was led by researchers at the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Exeter and was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.