It’s 2023 and I know many people use the microwave these days, so today I’m going to discuss:
- if it’s safe,
- if it can cause cancer,
- what the government says,
- what clinical studies have shown
and my own personal view on this topic.
And I bring this up because I have a friend who has parents who are still alive in their late 80s, they’re both healthy and have no cancer or any other real health problems.
My friend said that she believes that it’s because her parents have never used the microwave. She said, “I think microwaving food causes radiation and can cause cancer. I think this is one reason cancer is on the rise. We heat all of our foods on the stove, on an open fire as people have for thousands of years.”
What do you think?
Do you think she’s right?
That microwaving food is bad for our health? That it can cause radiation to the foods we eat and thus, cause cancer?
The Story About Microwave
Before I dig deeper into this topic, I have a related story.
A few years ago, I remember a story that went viral about how two plants were given water.
One was with regular purified water and the other was with microwaved water.
Well, after 9 days, the plant that was given microwaved water was almost dead, while the one with purified water was still alive and healthy
I remember after that, I stopped microwaving water for a while. I thought, “Wow, if it’s killing a plant that quickly, who knows what it’s doing to me”
Now, I’ll get back to this plant example in a minute.
Does Microwave Food Cause Radiation?
But, let’s go back to the original topic – does microwave food cause radiation to the food and thus, potentially give you cancer?
Well, the FDA says “No, microwave ovens do not cause radiation to the foods we eat”.
Okay, so that’s good. Granted, many people don’t trust the FDA or government these days when it comes to our health.
So, let’s continue with the research.
What does the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency” say?
Microwave ovens use electromagnetic radiation to heat food. The non-ionizing radiation used by a microwave does not make the food radioactive. Microwaves are only produced when the oven is operating.
The microwaves produced inside the oven are absorbed by food and produce the heat that cooks the food. Microwave ovens are constructed to ensure the electromagnetic radiation does not leave the oven. This includes safety interlocks which ensure that the oven turns off anytime the door is opened.
So, they also agree with the FDA. However, they do say that:
If microwave ovens are used while broken or altered, it is possible for them to leak electromagnetic radiation. Microwave radiation leaks are hard to detect because you can’t smell or see microwaves. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates radiation-emitting products such as microwave ovens, advises against standing directly in front of or up against the oven while it is operating. This will avoid harm from any possible leaks.
Now, this last part is important, so let me repeat it. Because we can’t see or smell radiation leaks, it’s advised that just in case something is broken or isn’t operating correctly in the microwave, it’s best that we avoid “standing directly in front of or up against the oven while it is operating”
Okay, so this is something I need to do and be cognizant of. We can use the microwave, but just to play it safe, walk away from it while it’s operating.
How far?… I don’t know. The farther the better I guess.
Clinical Studies About Microwave and Cancer
But, again, these are government agencies. What about clinical studies having to do with cancer?
In 1997, Peter Valberg reviewed all of the epidemiological studies at the time, which looked at the incidence and distribution of cancer in relation to microwave radiation exposure and tried to determine whether microwaves increased the risk of cancer in humans.
He found very little evidence to support this and concluded that microwaves do not cause cancer.
This makes sense if you understand how microwaves work because we know that the non-ionizing radiation used in microwave ovens is not powerful enough to transfer radiation into food; it can only cause the water molecules to move and thus, HEAT the food.
Additionally, another study printed in Molecular and Cellular Biology found that microwave radiation exposure did not show any signs of increased cancer risk in mice.
To summarize, microwaves don’t make foods radioactive. They just heat them! This is done because Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules to vibrate and, as a result, food is heated.
This is different from conventional cooking which cooks the food from the absorption of heat energy.
One thing to remember is that radiation can damage the DNA. However, when it comes to food, it’s already dead. No DNA damage. And, your body isn’t affected by the DNA of what you eat.
Back To Plant Experiment
Now, going back to the microwaved water and plant experiment I mentioned earlier. Well, as it turned out, it wasn’t accurate.
Nobody has been able to replicate that.
In fact, others have tried to replicate that experiment using 3 different types of water on 3 different types of plants using:
The end result is the plants were the same at the end. Nothing bad happened. No difference.
My View & Suggestions
So at the end of all of this, here are my thoughts:
- I don’t think microwaving foods is bad for you or can cause cancer.
- I do think it’s a good idea to stay away from the microwave while it’s on, just to be extra cautious and safe.
- I also think that food tastes better when it’s NOT microwaved and heated conventionally.
However, I know microwaving is easy and fast. Make sure you use a microwave-safe container, preferably glass or even paper, both being better than plastic for a variety of reasons.