Researchers in Maryland have indicated that young chickens may contain more than three times as much arsenic as other poultry.

Levels in a study conducted under the lead of Tamar Lasky of the National Institute of Child Health and Development in Bethesda are higher than was previously thought, according to an article published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

However, although levels were higher than anticipated, this does not mean consumers are at risk of eating too much arsenic, as they would need to eat unusually large amounts of chicken to do so.

"Most people do not eat amounts of chicken that would result in excessive arsenic exposure," Lasky told Reuters Health. A 154-pound (11 stone) person who consumed 612 grams (more than 21 ounces) of chicken a day would still receive less than half of the daily arsenic limit from chicken, according to the report.

Arsenic has been linked to birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and bladder and lung cancer. The primary source of arsenic in chicken is antibiotics, so consumers concerned about the news may switch to buying chicken reared without the use of antibiotics.