WHY MICROWAVE OVENS CAN BE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH

macrowave food dangers

According to Microwave Technologies Association (MTA), if you are one of 95% of people living in UK, you are the owner of a microwave oven. Most of us have one at home and many seem to think that in today’s fast paced world you could not live without it. Yes, we need to be fair and admit it is convenient. You reach for a pre-packaged meal from your freezer, pop it into a microwave, and in 3 minutes you’re having a dinner. But no matter whether it’s a pack of processed meat or healthy home made leftovers from yesterday, according to some researchers, this so popular appliance might significantly zap the nutritional value of your food and in the long term make you susceptible to developing serious health complications.


How Do They Work

Microwave ovens use radiation waves that are generated by a magnetron- a vacuum tube that generates energy using the interaction of a stream of electrons with a magnetic field, the same energy power output that is required in radar equipment. Microwaves simply bounce around the inside of the oven and are absorbed by whatever you place in the oven (dielectric heating). But in order for waves to heat your food, water must be present within the food. Water molecules vibrate at incredible speeds creating molecular friction which will heat the substance. Than the structure of the water molecules are torn apart and vigorously deformed. This method of heating is quite different than for example: convection ovens, which heat the food up by transferring heat from the outside inward. If you wander why your food is often heated unevenly in microwave ovens, there are two reasons for this:

  1. Since not all areas of food contain the same amount of water, the food is often heated unevenly.
  2. Even though cooking in microwave does begin within the molecules, the process does not start from “the inside out” like you could assume. They actually start heating the outer layers of molecules and transfer the heat deeper in. That’s why your food often is extremely hot on outside, while the inside seems to be still cold.

Dangers

There are no atoms, molecules or cells of any organic system able to withstand such a violent, destructive power for any extended period of time, not even in the low energy range of milliwatts… This is how microwave cooking heat is generated – friction from this violence in water molecules. Structures of molecules are torn apart, molecules are forcefully deformed (called structural isomerism) and thus become impaired in quality.

Swiss scientist-Hans Hertel


Microwave Sickness

It isn’t just about microwaves, cell phone towers also emit the type of radiation that can deform molecules in directly exposed tissues. Have you ever experienced headache or sickness after long conversation on a mobile phone? Weakened immune system, impaired cognition, headaches, dizziness, vision problems are amongst a few problems experienced by some people, and are described as “Microwave Sickness”.


Radiation Leakage

macrowave radiation

In theory, the amounts of radiation leakage through the viewing glass are insignificant and well below any level known to harm people. At least it was more of an issue with earlier models than with modern ones, which have to undergo more rigorous testing. The FDA regulations state that the amount of microwaves that can leak from an oven throughout its lifetime can not exceed 5 milliwatts (mW) per square centimeter at approximately 2 inches from the oven surface. The standards also require ovens to have two independent interlock systems to stop the operation the moment the latch is released or the door is opened. Microwave should also stop working if one or both of interlock systems fail. All these tests and regulations would make you think, that you are completely safe.

However, according to Powerwatch, an independent, non-profit organization with a central role in the UK EMF and Microwave Radiation health debate, the levels of microwave within the kitchen are likely to be much higher than those from any nearby cellular phone base-stations. Microwaves will also travel through walls if the oven is placed against an inside wall. Powerwatch is also very sceptical about current leakage safety regulations and recommends ovens to be checked at least once a year. Door and hinges should be checked on regular basis and microwave should be scraped if there is any damage or defect like- warps, bends or when the door doesn’t close correctly.

But even if microwave fulfils all the requirements to be rendered safe, standing a foot away from it while it’s on, may expose you to upwards of 400 milliGauss. Considering that a mere 4 milliGauss has been strongly linked to leukemia, it wouldn’t be superstitious to keep yourself and your children away from the microwave when it’s running. It is also known that eyes are particularly susceptible to microwave radiation with high exposures known to cause cataracts. So, the further from it the safer.


Denaturation

vegetables in microwave
Quality of our fresh food is poor even without heating it which may further decrease its nutritional value. Soil depletion, farming practices, overproduction of crops or the use of pesticides and herbicides ensure you are no longer getting all of the minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and phytonutrients you need. Although most of the cooking methods can additionally influence macronutrients level of your food, recent reports reveal that ripping those vegetable molecules through microwave cooking, leads to even a greater loss of antioxidant compounds than does traditional heating.


Carcinogens

You don’t need to be a scientist to figure out that heat plus toxic chemicals such as BPA, polyethylene terpthalate, or xylene found in plastic containers that we use to heat these microwave meals, is bad for you. Microwave heat combined with plastic and other chemicals used for food packaging can release the carcinogens and other harmful toxins into your food which are then absorbed by your body.


Heart Problems

Apparently non-ionizing radiation of the microwave can influence your blood and your heart rate. In one study eight participants ate food prepared in different ways, including food heated in the microwave. Researchers found that individuals who consumed milk and vegetables heated in a microwave, had decreased number of red blood cells while white cell levels increased along with cholesterol levels.

Another study conducted by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University revealed that although 2.4 GHz frequency of microwave radiation are within federal safety guidelines, they cause immediate and dramatic changes in heart rate and heart rate variability. So, if you happen to eat microwaved food on regular basis and you experience irregular heart beat or any chest pain, it might be a good idea to stop using it.


Conclusion

I know, you will find a lot of blogs trying to undermine the significance of all the research. They will quickly jump into a conclusion because a few studies about microwave ovens harmful effects are a little bit questionable or scientists don’t have reputable university degrees. Hans Ulrich Hertel was successfully sued by manufacturers and suppliers of household appliances for his report on microwave studies, but no one mentions that the decision of the Swiss court was reversed by the European Court of Human Rights. They might also say that Russian’s research findings on microwaves dangers was a big propaganda against capitalism, and if it was harmful, FDA would ban its production. The policy chief at FDA also happens to be ex-Monsanto boss, leading producer of genetically engineered seed and herbicide glyphosate. GMO food has been responsible for massive sickness and death of many people, and with quite strong proofs and a lot of countries banning its production now, the GMO food supporters seem to be left with little to no arguments.

conspiracy
Photo from VisibleFriends.net

I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but please, understand that majority of government agencies and even some of private establishments that are supposed to report and protect consumer, are many times funded by corporate interests. Microwave appliances is a multi-billions business, which means that many other valid studies might be suppressed, to say nothing of the fact that long term studies on this subject have never been conducted. Maybe it’s not a well educated answer, but to me it just does not feel right. Natural not processed food contains this life energy, biophotons, which are stored in all life forms and contain bio-information that in some way seem to be partly responsible for our feelings, vitality and well-being. By cooking your food in a microwave oven, you potentially deplete this life energy, rendering the food lifeless. For this and all the other reasons, my scepticism about microwaves danger is not that big, no matter how much FDA tries to assure me about its safety. At the end of the day, everyone is allowed to express their own opinion and everyone can believe in whatever is said , it’s your health and your life. Begging the question: is convenience worth sacrificing your and your children’s health? Better safe than sorry.


References

Confirmation studies of Soviet research on immunological effects of microwaves
The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking
Powerwatch – Microwave Oven and Microwave Cooking Overview
Dr Magda Havas, PhD: Dangers of Cell Phones, Microwave Radiation
Stephanie Relfe B.Sc. – Hertel’s and Russian’s studies on microwave effects on human health.

More Sources

Pellegrini, N., Chiavaro, E., Gardana, C., Mazzeo, T., Contino, D., Gallo, M.,…Porrini, M., (2008). Effect of different cooking methods on color, phytochemical concentration, and antioxidant capacity of raw and frozen Brassica vegetables [Abstract]. J. Agric. Food Chem, 58(7):4310–4321. doi: 10.1021/jf904306r

Tajchakavit, S., Ramaswamy, H. S., & Fustier, P. (1998, Dec). Enhanced destruction of spoilage microorganisms in apple juice during continuous flow microwave heating [Abstract]. Food Research International, 31(10):713-722. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0963-9969(99)00050-2

Galgano, F., Favati, F., Caruso, M., Pietrafesa, A., & Natella, S. (2007, Mar). The influence of processing and preservation on the retention of health-promoting compounds in broccoli [Abstract]. J Food Sci, 72(2):S130-5. PMID:17995854

Hearn, T., Sgoutas, S. and Sgoutas, D. (1987). Stability of polyunsaturated fatty acids after microwave cooking of fish [Abstract]. Journal of Food Science, 52(5):1430-1431. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.1987.tb14100.x

Jiménez-Monreal, A.M., García-Diz, L., Martínez-Tomé, M., Mariscal, M., & Murcia, M. A. (2009). Influence of cooking methods on antioxidant activity of vegetables [PDF]. Journal of Food Science, 74(3):H97-H103. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01091.x

López-Berenguer, C., Carvajal, M., Moreno, D.A., & García-Viguera, C. (2007, Nov 28). Effects of microwave cooking conditions on bioactive compounds present in broccoli inflorescences [Abstract]. J Agric Food Chem, 55(24):10001-7. Epub 2007 Nov 3. PMID:17979232

Love, J.A. & Prusa, K.J. (1992, Nov). Nutrient composition and sensory attributes of cooked ground beef: Effects of fat content, cooking method, and water rinsing [Abstract]. J Am Diet Assoc, 92(11):1367-71. PMID:1430722

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