Can BPA make guys sexual misfits? What scary new study says

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(CBS) Does exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) make guys less sexy to gals?

An ominous new study shows that males exposed to the controversial chemical might look normal but are "demasculinized" in ways that make them less attractive to females.

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The study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was performed not on humans but on mice. Yet scientists say their findings suggest that BPA might demasculinize human males as well, possibly resulting in "decreased reproductive fitness."

Or, as a plainspoken non-scientist might say, BPA could transform seemingly normal guys into girly men who find it hard to attract a mate.

"The BPA-exposed deer mice in our study look normal; there is nothing obviously wrong with them," study author Dr. Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a written statement. "Yet, they are clearly different. Females do not want to mate with BPA-exposed male deer mice, and BPA-exposed males perform worse on spatial navigation tasks that assess their ability to find female partners in the wild."

Just what is BPA? It's a chemical that's found in some hard plastics and in the linings of metal food and beverage cans. A 2008 review by the FDA found that traces of BPA in foods posed no health risk, but more recent studies linking BPA to cancer, heart disease, and other serious ailments have raised concern.

In the study, female deer mice were fed BPA-containing diets before breeding and until their pups were weaned, about 25 days after birth. The male pups were put on a BPA-free diet and then given a maze challenge upon reaching sexual maturity.

What happened? Turned out the mice born to moms fed BPA were lousy at finding their way in the maze. What's more, they were less desirable to female mice, as shown by the amount of time the gals spent sniffing them nose-to-nose.

Dr. Rosenfeld says her study "sets the stage for BPA researchers to examine how BPA might differentially impact the behavioral and cognitive patterns of boys versus girls," adding that scientists who have been trying to link BPA to chromosomal abnormalities might be failing to notice that the chemical has subtle effects on behavior.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more on bisphenol A.

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