A majority of American kitchens are equipped with two ovens these days. Most have a traditional oven beneath a cooktop.
But the mania for speed and convenience has resulted in about 90 percent of homes also having a microwave oven.
Many folks love the way this modern marvel can help you quickly unthaw frozen foods… heat an entire prepared meal in two minutes… or produce a quick snack…
But is it possible that millions of us could be sacrificing our good health on the altar of convenience? Keep reading to see important evidence. . .
A main concern is that radiation from a microwave can lead to cancer. But is this true?
That largely depends on whose opinion you decide to listen to.
One school of thought is that the low frequency radiation used in microwaves doesn’t have enough energy to damage your cells and thereby lead to tumor growth.
But you should know there are dissenting voices to this opinion!
In theory, the microwave just steps up molecular movement – the same thing that happens when you boil water or heat something in a conventional oven. That’s all heat is – faster motion at a level far too tiny for us to see.
But according to a survey of the Professional Service Associates (a group of microwave repair servicemen), more than half of microwave ovens two years or older leak levels of radiation 10 percent higher than the safety standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
And of course, that begs the question of whether you can trust the FDA’s assessment of what constitutes a ‘safe’ level of radiation. I wouldn’t count on it. If my hunch is right, those older ovens are leaking radiation way above a safe level.
Early Russian studies caused a
government BAN on microwaves!
In 1957, Russia began testing radar microwave emissions and microwave oven cooking. What they discovered led them to issue emission restrictions for radar workers and a ban on microwave ovens in 1976.
Robert O. Becker’s book, The Body Electric, described the health effects caused by microwave radiation, according to the Russian research.
Becker said the Russian researchers used the term “microwave sickness” to describe the effects, which first manifest as low blood pressure and a slow pulse. Later these symptoms were followed by chronic exciting of the sympathetic nervous system (stress syndrome) and high blood pressure.
Other symptoms during this phase include:
The Russian researchers found that continued exposure led to increased incidences of appendicitis, cataracts, reproductive problems and cancer.
These chronic symptoms eventually led to blocked coronary arteries and heart attacks.
The Russian prohibition on microwave ovens was lifted during the political reforms of the 1980s. At this point, the allure of Western conveniences trumped health concerns in Russia.
All radiation is not created equal
Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like light waves or radio waves. They use alternating current (AC) to create frictional heat.
In contrast, microwaves from the sun are based on principles of pulsed direct current (DC) that don’t create frictional heat.
In commercial models, the oven has a power input of about 1000 watts of alternating current. When microwaves hit your food, they agitate the food molecules, causing the food to heat up.
But this friction also damages and deforms surrounding molecules. In a paper focused on health effects of microwave ovens, chemist and enzyme researcher Lita Lee, PhD, provides a summary of findings from the Russian research.
First of all, carcinogens were formed in just about ALL foods tested! More specifically, the investigators discovered that:
The Russian researchers also reported decreases ranging from 60 to 90 percent in the nutritional value of the foods tested! This included a decreased bio-availability of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropics factors in all foods tested.
To be fair, conventional heating may also destroy nutritional value. I haven’t seen a comparison – or, really, any meaningful data on what cooking does to complex nutrients.
You might be thinking that the Russian tests were conducted several decades ago. Surely microwave ovens have improved their efficiency and safety since then, right?
Recent studies highlight
additional health concerns
The microwave ovens of yesteryear might have been less sophisticated than ones on the market today. But modern ovens use the same technology to heat foods—which means they produce similar effects.
Recent studies and anecdotes have demonstrated the potential health dangers associated with use of microwave technologies. For example:
At the very least, these studies should raise your awareness of potential concerns with using microwave devices.
If you choose to use microwave ovens, the American Cancer Society recommends that you always follow the heating instructions that came with your microwave oven to reduce risk of burns or cataracts.
And when heating foods, it is best to avoid use of plastic containers that can leach harmful chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) into your foods.
These are just some ways to help reduce the chances of your health being ‘zapped’ by microwave use! As for me, my microwave oven sits unused in my kitchen, and has for several years. I’ll probably toss it one of these days.