• Microwave Dangers? Top 5 Claims vs. The Evidence

    By Nick Tumminello

    As a fitness professional, I often get asked about Microwave Dangers. Questions like, ”Is using the microwave oven bad for my health?” “I’ve heard microwaving changes the molecular structure or water/ food making it less nutritious or unhealthy. Is that true?” “Does the microwave cause cancer?”

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    My reply to any and all questions like this is always… “It’s NOT what myself or anyone else BELIEVES, it’s what the scientific EVIDENCE says.”

    In this post I’m going look at the Top 5 most common claims about Microwaves dangers and show you how the current body of scientific evidence does not support these claims and proves them to be erroneous.

    Put simply, what you’ll find when you go to the sources making these claims about microwave oven dangers is that they provide NOT a single credible source in a peer-reviewed journal to justify their claims. However, THIS post gives you the mother load of  peer-reviewed journal citations and credible sources.

    Now, lets get things going by first (briefly) exploring how a microwave over works in order to help you better understand the claims (vs. the actual evidence) about microwave dangers.

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    How Does a Microwave Oven Work?

    The typical domestic Microwave oven has a power rating between 600 and 1,500 watts. More watts means more heat, while lower power means longer cooking time. Typical domestic microwave ovens operate at a frequency of 2.45 GHz with an output power of 500W. (7)

    A microwave oven uses “dielectric heating” to cook food. (1) This is accomplished by using microwave radiation to heat polarized molecules within the food. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being more evenly heated throughout (except in dense objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques. (2).

    In other words, molecules that are electric dipoles, of which water is the most efficient, rotate back and forth; the friction between them creates heat. This process is “dielectric heating.”

    The literature reveals that microwave heating occurs by two mechanisms, which are dipolar polarization, and ionic conduction (Kingston and Jassie, 1998Mingos and Baghurst, 1991 and Taylor et al., 2005). Dipolar polarization is by which heat is produced in polar molecules like water. Dipoles align themselves by rotating with the electric field associated with waves… In conduction, dissolved charged particles (ions) in a sample oscillate back and forth under the influencing electric force of microwaves creating an electric current. This current faces internal resistance because of collisions of charged species with neighboring molecules or atoms, which cause materials to heat up (Metaxas, 1996 and Ponne, 1996). The conduction principal has much stronger effect in comparison to dipolar polarization for heat producing capacity (Keiko, 2003).(8)

    1. “Microwaves Leak Dangerous Levels of Radiation”

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    What The Evidence Says:

    –  Domestic microwaves do leak some radiation, which the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) allows for because they are far below the level known to harm people. Microwave energy also decreases dramatically as you move away from the source of radiation. A measurement made 20 inches from an oven would be approximately one one-hundredth of the value measured at 2 inches.(6)

    – “Based on the survey results, several studies and the fast decay of radiated power density with distance from the oven, the conclusion was that user exposure to RF radiation from microwave ovens is much less than the general public exposure limit set by most international standards… and that a detrimental effect on health is an unlikely result of exposure to radiation from microwave ovens.” (3)

    – The design of modern microwave ovens is such that the microwaves should be contained within the oven, but it is still possible for some leakage to occur around the doors of certain microwave ovens. Generally, the required design of oven doors should restrict this leakage to a level well below that recommended by the Australian/New Zealand Standard… The recommended limit is conservative and includes significant safety factors, so that even leakage levels appreciably above the limit will have no known effect on human health.(4)

    – All new microwave ovens produced for sale in the United States must meet the Food and Drug Administration/Center for Devices and Radiological Health (FDA/CDRH) performance requirements in Title 21, CFR, Part 1030.10.(26)

    The USFDA requires all microwave ovens to have two independent interlock systems that stop the production of microwaves the moment the latch is released or the door opened. In addition, a monitoring system stops microwave oven operation in case one or both of the interlock systems fail. (6)

    – There is no residual radiation remaining after microwave production has stopped. In this regard a microwave oven is much like an electric light that stops glowing when it is turned off. (6)

    – Surveys by organisations providing testing services have shown that microwave oven leakage levels in excess of the recommended limits are rare and an oven in good condition and used correctly is safe.(5)

    BOTTOM LINE: Properly working domestic microwave ovens do NOT leak harmful levels of radiation. Organizations such as the USFDA and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) have strict standards, and regular testing procedures in place to ensure their safety standards are upheld.

    Absolutely no negative health effects of microwave heating have been shown conclusively in all these years since microwave heating was started in the 50s.” Ashim Datta, a professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University and the author of The Handbook of Microwave Technology for Food Applications.

    2. “Microwave Radiation Can Cause Cancer; Damage Human Reproductive System, Immune System and Central Nervous System”

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    What The Evidence Says:

    – Accidental exposure to high levels of microwave energy can alter or kill sperm, producing temporary sterility. But these types of injuries – burns, cataracts, temporary sterility – can onlybe caused by exposure to large amounts of microwave radiation, much more than the 5mW limit for microwave oven leakage. (6)

    – A 2003 literature review published in the Journal of Microwave Power and Electromagnetic Energy looked at the recent medical and scientific literature (from mid-1998 through 2002) dealing with possible effects of  low-level radio-frequency (RFE) on brain tumors and malignancies, leukemia, other cancers, and the central nervous system concluded that “the evidence for any proven health effects (related to the topics above) of low-level RFE exposure is minimal.” (9)

    – A 2008 literature review published in the Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health reviewed the recent medical and scientific literature (from mid-1998 through early 2006) dealing with possible effects of low-level radio-frequency (RFE) (3 kHz to 300 GHz) on cardiovascular, reproductive, and immune systems concluded that “there is only weak evidence for a relationship between RFE and any endpoint studied (related to the topics above), thus providing at present no sufficient foundation for establishing RFE as a health hazard.” (10)

    – A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that “extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields from commonly used household appliances are unlikely to increase the risk of brain tumors.” (19)

    – According to the USFDA, “Less is known about what happens to people exposed to low levels of microwaves. Controlled, long-term studies involving large numbers of people have not been conducted to assess the impact of low level microwave energy on humans. The fact that many scientific questions about exposure to low-levels of microwaves are not yet answered require FDA to continue to enforcement of radiation protection requirements.” They go on to recommend “Consumers should take certain common sense precautions.“ (6)

    BOTTOM LINE: Absolute claims about household microwaves causing cancer, or damaging human reproductive, nervous or immune system are at this point completely unsubstantiated, as the current evidence for cause and effect in the area is virtually non-existent. That said, one would do best to follow the USFDA’s recommendation of taking “common sense precautionslike not standing directly next to the microwave while it’s on, since, as stated above, it’s been shown that standing just 20 inches away – that’s less than the average adults arm length – from a microwave oven would be approximately one one-hundredth of the RF radiation value measured at 2 inches.

    “This type of radiation is non-ionizing, which means that it isn’t the type of “radiation” you’d associate with Homer Simpson and Chernobyl — it’s in the form of waves.” Ryan Andrews, the Director of Education at Precision Nutrition

    3. “The Microwave Alters/ Reduces/ Kills Nutrients in Food”

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    This type of claim likely stems from a 1975 study published Journal of Food Science, which stated that the shape and texture of both carrot and broccoli halves appeared to change while those cooked conventionally more nearly resembled the shape of the stalk or root. (28)

    It’s also likely this type of claim comes from the large number of studies – several are described below – which find changes to the nutritional content of food that has been microwaved. However, as you’ll see when we actually look at the evidence, changes to the nutritional content of food happen whenever any food is cooked by any method. So this reality has more to do with the act of cooking food than with the specific cooking method.

    (First) What the Evidence says about Cooking Food (vs. Raw):

    – A January 2008 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry said that boiling and steaming better preserves antioxidants, particularly carotenoid, in carrots, zucchini and broccoli, than frying. (12)

    – Another 2002 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that cooking carrots increases their level of beta-carotene. (13)

    – A 2002 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that cooking boosts the amount of lycopene in tomatoes. (14) Additionally, Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University who did the study stated in this article, “Cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, peppers and many other vegetables also supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw.” The reason, he says: “the heat breaks down the plants’ thick cell walls and aids the body’s uptake of some nutrients that are bound to those cell walls.” 

    What the Evidence Says about Microwave Cooking:

    – A 2003 study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli cooked by microwave — and immersed in water — loses about 74 percent to 97 percent of its antioxidants. However, when steamed or cooked without water, the broccoli retained most of its nutrients.(11)

    – A 2004 study published in the International Journal of Food Properties said there was no difference in iron, phosphorus or calcium content of spinach in the three different preparation methods: conventional boiling, pressure cooking and microwaving. (15)

    – A 1982 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition looked at the effect of microwaves on nutrient value of foods and stated, “Overall, the nutritional effects of microwaves on protein, lipid, and minerals appear minimal. A large amount of data is available on the effects of microwaves on vitamins. It is concluded that there are only slight differences between microwave and conventional cooking on vitamin retention in foods. In conclusion, no significant nutritional differences exist between foods prepared by conventional and microwave methods. Any differences reported in the literature are minimal.” (21)

    – A 2010 study published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry looked at the effect of microwave, boiling and pressure cooking on total antioxidant capacity and total phenolics content of seven vegetables: carrot, cauliflower, pea, potato, spinach, Swiss chard and tomato.The researchers observed that all three cooking methods cause some loss to phenolic compounds, however, microwaving and pressure cooking is less detrimental to nutrients than boiling. (16)

    – A 2005 study published in Food Chemistry showed that boiling, steaming and microwaving had no difference on the content of phenolics and antioxidants in pepper, squash, green beans, peas, leek, broccoli and spinach.(17)

    BOTTOM LINE: Based on the evidence, 1) Cooking in water seems to be more of a negative than cooking in a microwave, at least as far as preserving nutrients in vegetables is concerned. 2) Microwave cooked food may retain vitamins and minerals better than stove-top-cooked food because the microwave zaps food quickly and without much water. Plus, if time is a factor, microwaving is much quicker too!

    “Some nutrients do break down when they’re exposed to heat, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Vitamin C is perhaps the clearest example. So, as a general proposition, cooking with a microwave probably does a better job of preserving the nutrient content of foods because the cooking times are shorter.”  The University of Harvard Medical School (18)

    4. “Microwaving  in plastic is Dangerous because it can cause toxic chemicals (like phthalates and dioxins) to leak into your food”

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    What the Evidence Says:

    – The FDA, recognizing the potential for small amounts of plasticizers to migrate, closely regulates plastic containers and materials that come into contact with food. Before approving a container, the FDA conducts tests to make sure that it doesn’t leak unsafe amounts of any substance into food. (18)

    – According to the American Chemistry Council, “All plastics intended for food use — whether designed for microwaving or not — must meet stringent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards before they are allowed on the market. When manufacturers develop individual plastic packaging products, they often conduct additional testing based on a product’s intended use. Choosing to microwave with a plastic item not labeled for microwave suitability isn’t necessarily “unsafe,” but you won’t have the assurance of knowing the item was tested and evaluated for this purpose.” (20)

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    BOTTOM LINE: If a plastic container is marked “microwave-safe” or carries a microwave icon on it, it’s been specially designed and tested to NOT leach toxins into your food and to withstand microwave heat without melting or warping.

    Additionally, The Harvard Medical School Recommends some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:

    • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe (and could potentially leach chemicals into your food).
    • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
    • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
    • A recycle symbol does not mean a container is safe to use or reuse in the microwave oven. Only a microwave-safe icon or wording to that effect does.

    5. “Microwave Ovens alter the molecular structure of food and Water in harmful ways”

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    What the Evidence Says:

    – There is ZERO evidence to support either claim that microwave cooking changes the structure of food or water. And, the burden of proof is ALWAYS on the one(s) making the claim – It is they (the claimer) who must reject the null hypothesis.

    – Concerning the effects of Microwaves on Food: The researchers in a 1995 study published in the Journal Food Chemistry did a toxicity experiment on rats using human food. In this study, the researchers intentionally subjected the food to misuse treatment by reheating in a microwave repeatedly to make sure to concentrate any potentially harmful substances. Their criteria to assess toxicity included clinical observations, ophthalmoscopy, growth, food and water intake, haematology, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, organ weights, micronucleated erythrocytes in bone marrow, gross examination at autopsy and microscopic examination of a wide range of organs. Their results indicated “No adverse effects of the diets cooked by microwave compared with those cooked conventionally.” (22)

    – Concerning the effects of Microwaves on Water: According to Louis A. Bloomfield Ph.D., a Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia and the author of the book How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary“Microwaves don’t affect the molecular structure of the food, except through the thermal effects we associate with normal cooking (e.g., denaturing of proteins with heat and caramelizing of sugars). That’s because, like all electromagnetic waves, microwaves are emitted and absorbed as particles called “photons.” The energy in a microwave photon is so tiny that it can’t cause any chemical rearrangement in a molecule. Instead, it can only add a tiny amount of heat to a water molecule.” (23)

    In other words, stating that microwaving would cause the structure of the water molecules to tear apart and cause the water to essentially decompose into its component hydrogen and oxygen, as occurs in electrolysis, is an incredible claim that’s also incredibly unsubstantiated, much less to go farther and make definitive claims as to what what the dangers would be even if it did.

    Plus, not only is this claim completely unsubstantiated, it’s just plan WRONG because a microwave oven passes “Non-Ionizing” microwave radiation (27) through food. Brian Dunning, in his “Are Microwave Ovens Safe?” episode of Skeptiod, does a great job of explaining this reality in order to highlight how demonstrably wrong this type of claim is:

    “Probably the most flagrant error that the Microwave Militia propagates is that microwaved food or water contains what they call “radiolytic compounds” — new chemicals created by the tearing apart of molecules in a microwave. These new chemicals are said to be dangerous, cancerous, radioactive, unnatural, or otherwise harmful. This is a demonstrably false claim. Radiolysis, which is a real process and which the Militia believes creates these radiolytic compounds, is the process by which molecules are dissociated under ionizing radiation. Water can be dissociated under ionizing alpha particle bombardment, which is a natural process. Microwave radiation, as mentioned earlier, is not ionizing radiation. It is thus scientifically incapable of causing radiolysis. The differences between microwave radiation and alpha radiation are huge. With the claim that microwaves cause dissociation of water molecules, the Microwave Militia is either deliberately lying, or they are grossly ignorant of the very subject on which they claim superior expertise.”

    – The fact-checking website Snopes debunked the claims regarding the two pictured plants (below) that many of the Microwave Dangers websites love to talk about: one that was given microwaved water and a second plant that received purified water.

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    As the internet story goes, the pictures are from a science fair project (done in 2006) done by the granddaughter of an unknown man who wrote the letter sharing this story with the world. Supposedly she (the granddaughter) thought that the structure or energy of water may be compromised by the microwave. And, over the course of 9 days, as you can see by the photos, the plant given microwaved-water shriveled and died, supposedly due to the adverse effects of “microwaved water.”

    Now, not only is this whole story pure internet rumor, the testing methodology used doesn’t nearly represent “good science,” therefore, making any conclusions drawn from it erroneous.

    Moreover, the folks at Snopes claim to have replicated this experiment in a much better and more controlled manner.

    According to their website, they took nine healthy plants, three each of three different plant varieties — with one member of each set receiving a different water treatment all from the same water source and temperature.

    3 plants (one from each set) were given unboiled room-temperature water
    3 plants (one from each set) were given microwave-boiled water, cooled to room temperature
    3 plants (one from each set) were given stove-top boiled water, cooled to room temperature

    In their experiment, the person watering the plants didn’t know which water was which in order to “blind” them, which eliminates any possible influence from the waterer.

    At the conclusion of their experiment, the “waterer” (who was blind to knowing which water was which) was asked to pick out the plants that faired best within each of three watering groups, 2 out of 3 plants chosen to appear most healthy, were plants that received microwave-boiled water. Go here to read more about the Snopes “plant watering” experiment and findings, and see the photos of the plants.

    Note: I’ve provided an overview of the Snopes experiment, not to claim it a somehow “valid evidence” – It’s certainly not, as it’s not published in any peer-reviewed journal – but to display what a reliable study looking at the subject matter in question would have to look like in order for anyone to be able to draw any reliable conclusions.

    BOTTOM LINE: With regard to food, there is no evidence to support that microwave cooking changes the structure of food, much less in an unhealthy manner. And, the evidence we do have shows exactly the opposite!

    In regard to water, as Snopes put it, “Water heated in a microwave oven is no different in ‘structure or energy’ than water heated with a gas flame, on an electric stove, or over a wood fire: it’s just water, plain and simple.”

    Additionally, Brian Dunning, the host of the Skeptiod, which won the 2012 Best Science Podcast in the first annual Stitcher podcast awards, puts this ridiculous myth to bed by issuing a very legitimate challenge:

     ”This whole paranoid suggestion is based on the presumption that a microwave oven somehow changes or poisons water. If true, wouldn’t you be able to perform some kind of a test on water, and see if it has ever been microwaved? Water is H2O, whether it’s ever been microwaved or not. But here’s an even deal for you. If you truly believe that H2O carries some permanent damage as a result of being microwaved, and that it’s possible to detect this damage through any means you choose, there’s a million dollars in it for you. As you may know, the Skeptoid podcast is a qualifying media outlet for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. I’ll walk it through for you and I’ll become your biggest cheerleader. Are microwaves really a danger to humanity? If so, it would be immoral for you to do anything else but take that million dollars and use it to educate and save the world.” (25)

    Conclusion

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    As you’ve seen, all five of these much too common “big” claims about microwave dangers, which I addressed above, certainly don’t have “big” evidence to support them. When these claims are made, you’ll clearly see that there is either zero evidence provided to support them, or very poor evidence (like non-published or non-peer-reviewed “studies”) is cited as if it is somehow “legitimate” “irrefutable” evidence. It is for this reality that we don’t put any weight behind these claims, and remain very skeptical of anyone who repeats these claims.

    Put simply, we don’t care about what so and so says, we’re concerned about the VALIDITY of what so and so says. That’s exactly why, in this post, you were provided with plenty of very legitimate and reliable evidence to validate the statements given in the “Bottom Line” sections.

    Finally, to take us home, here’s one last piece (of wise words) addressing the claims of “Microwave dangers” from Brian Dunning

    “One clue that might encourage you to regard these claims with some skepticism is that fact that ever since microwave ovens came on the market in 1954, not one person has ever exhibited a single symptom of any illness resulting from having eaten microwaved food, or from having used water that had been microwaved. Burns are the exception, but burns are caused by heat from any source; that’s not unique to microwaves. But if you believe the claims by the anti-microwave fringe, whom I call the Microwave Militia, practically everyone on the planet should be gravely ill with cancer, radiation poisoning and malnutrition.”

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________

    Coach Nick Tumminello
    Coach Nick Tumminello

    Coach Nick Tumminello is the owner of Performance University International, which provides hybrid strength training and conditioning for athletes and professional educational programs for trainers and coaches all over the world.

    As an educator, Coach Nick has become known as the Trainer of Trainers. He has presented at international fitness conferences in Iceland, China, and Canada. He has been a featured presenter at conferences held by such organizations as IDEA, NSCA, DCAC, and ECA, along with teaching staff trainings at fitness clubs throughout the United States. Nick holds workshops and mentorship programs in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has produced more than 15 instructional DVDs and is a CEC provider for ACE and NASM.

    Nick has been a fitness professional since 1998 and co-owned a private training center in Baltimore, Maryland, from 2001 to 2011. He has worked with a variety of exercise enthusiasts of all ages and fitness levels, including physique and performance athletes from the amateur to the professional ranks. From 2002 to 2011, Nick served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Ground Control MMA fight team and as is a consultant and expert for clothing and equipment companies such as Sorinex, Dynamax, Hylete, and Reebok.

    Nick’s articles have appeared in over 30 major health and fitness magazines, includingMen’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Oxygen, Muscle Mag, Fitness RX, Sweat RX, Status, Train Hard Fight Easy, Fighters Only, and Fight! Nick is also a featured contributor to several popular fitness training websites. He has been featured in two New York Timesbest-selling exercise books, on the front page of Yahoo.com and Youtube.com, and in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, Fourth Edition. Nick’s new book, Strength Training for Fat Loss, will be available March 25th 2014.

     

    Category: FeaturedFitnessNick TumminelloNutrition & SupplementsSkepticism

  • Article by: Nick Tumminello

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    • deadguy366

      The absence of evidence does not provide evidence of absence. Remember that. This is a good article but the FDA telling me something is safe sure as hell isn’t enough proof for me. Please consider how many terribly harmful pharmaceuticals the FDA has “Approved for safe use” which later went on to cause birth defects and kill countless people. Please also consider the drastic rise in cancer, alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and countless other PREVENTABLE diseases which has taken place over the last 25 years. Obviously it’s very unlikely you will be harmed by a small amount of microwave/cell phone/power line radiation, food additives, artificial sweetener, fluoride, medication, GMO foods, or any of the other countless things the government has deemed “safe”. Incredibly small amounts of radiation and poison aren’t enough to hurt us immediately but what do you suppose happens when you stack thousand’s of these things over the course of an entire lifetime? It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out…

      • Actually absence of evidence does provide evidence of absence – under the condition that a claim requires evidence to exist in order to be true.

        The FDA’s rulings are not scientific pronouncements, but then, the above points are all supported by independent scientific evidence that has nothing to do with the FDA.

        Preventable illnesses have only apparently risen because people live longer, and because technology and methods to detect and describe illnesses gets better over time.

        Lastly, it is not true that any imaginable substance or radiation has any cumulative effect on health. In fact there is no coherent definition for “harmful” substance or radiation separable from dose. You can overdose on water and be killed. Does that make water a “poison” that hurts you in small amounts every day? I should think not. So we must evaluate effects of sizes of dose or exposure, and in all the cases you mention, we have.

        • deadguy366

          Apologies for the really long post. I think you misunderstood my first statement. I meant that simply because evidence has not been found; does not prove that no evidence exists. I for one do not believe that we as humans have reached the absolute pinnacle of science and knowing, and as such there are many things that haven’t been proven to date, but will be in the future.

          I’m not seeing a whole lot of independent, non government scientific research listed above. Three out of four of the above points are to do with the FDA deeming certain exposure levels to be safe, or that there is not enough evidence to prove it is not safe. Perhaps if further studies had been done stronger evidence might’ve been found. This quote from above says it all:

          – A 2008 literature review published in the Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health reviewed the recent medical and scientific literature (from mid-1998 through early 2006) dealing with possible effects of low-level radio-frequency (RFE) (3 kHz to 300 GHz) on cardiovascular, reproductive, and immune systems concluded that “there is only weak evidence for a relationship between RFE and any endpoint studied (related to the topics above), thus providing at present no sufficient foundation for establishing RFE as a health hazard.”

          Your point about preventable illness detection is very true when it comes to the last 100 or even 50 years, but it does not explain the sudden rise in these diseases in the last 10-20 years. There have been multiple studies suggesting cancer rates are increasing while fertility in men and women has been decreasing. Microwaves and the other things I mentioned aren’t necessarily to blame, but we’ve only been this highly exposed to many of these things for the last 10-20 years. Not enough time has passed to rule out the possibility of long term health defects.

          I don’t recall claiming any substance, let alone water for that matter, to have a cumulative effect on health. Radiation on the other hand is something completely different. Water is used and disposed of easily by the body and therefore you can continue drinking it each day. When you are exposed to radiation of any amount the effect is most certainly cumulative and tiny doses, even over long periods of time will eventually be enough to cause problems. Genetic damage caused by environmental factors (radiation, etc.) is passed down through each generation and therefore becomes surprisingly more cumulative than one might think.

          • simply because evidence has not been found; does not prove that no evidence exists

            When we are speaking of testable claims, the outcome of testing is evidence. That’s what testing is. A means of producing evidence supporting or contradicting a particular hypothesis. The topics here have been tested. Extensively.

            I’m not seeing a whole lot of independent, non government scientific research listed above.

            This is a blog post, not a journal article or issue of Nature. Extensive, exhaustive scientific citations are not generally appropriate to this format nor reasonable to expect. I think Nick did a good job pointing to some research and to the FDA, which actually does a pretty good job on the whole. The information about FDA regs is quite valuable in itself, because it informs about what the standards are that manufacturers are required to comply with. That isn’t about science, but regulation. All this aside, there is plenty of scientific literature on the topic of radiation exposure from microwaves and other appliances. No need to take my word for it, just google scholar it, but I will not be doing it all for you.

            Microwaves and the other things I mentioned aren’t necessarily to blame, but we’ve only been this highly exposed to many of these things for the last 10-20 years. Not enough time has passed to rule out the possibility of long term health defects

            Microwaves are a kind of non-ionizing radiation. That category includes infrared light, radio waves, and low frequency waves. There is no evidence that any form of non-ionizing radiation causes cancer. Such a thing has never been demonstrated, not a single time. The evidence is not just from observation studies of exposure, but also from scientific knowledge about the physics of radio waves and the chemistry of cancer. Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, can cause cancer because they are ionizing, they can remove electrons which can damage DNA resulting, sometimes, in cancer. But radio waves don’t do that. Not a tiny bit, not slightly, not sometimes. They just do not have that physical effect.

            The effects of radiation are not necessarily cumulative. It depends on what type we’re talking about about how much. Alpha particles, for example, are ionizing, but quite weak. They’re halted with a single sheet of paper, and if they strike you they do not penetrate your top layer of dead skin cells which you will slough or wash off within a couple days at most.

            I also don’t assume that we are exposed to collectively more radiation today than our ancestors were, of whatever sort. We spend far less time outside in our lives now, we almost always are clothed and we use UV block quite often when we are outside. Sunlight, infrared radiation (heat) released by the ground, plants, rocks, etc.., and naturally low-level radioactive potassium in foods like bananas that are potassium-rich almost certainly would collectively dwarf the pitiful emissions from appliances.

            • deadguy366

              Todays experiments do not always produce evidence and usually this is proof enough, but in certain cases lack of evidence can be caused by an insufficient understanding or “missing piece to the puzzle”. Most of Einsteins theories had no evidence to support them until fairly recently due to lack of testing capabilities. 150 years ago many people believed the earth was flat. 60 years ago the FDA claimed smoking wasn’t bad for you. Try to imagine some of the drastic changes in perception and knowledge that will occur in the next 150 years. Microwaves being bad for you may or may not be one of the discoveries made but you get the idea.

              I appreciate what the FDA does to set regulations and limits on the amount of radiation and poison allowed in our food but my question has always been the same. Why should ANY harmful chemicals be allowed in our food in the first place?

              Getting back to microwaves and RFE radiation in general; I am well aware of non-ionizing radiation and it’s supposed inability to cause genetic damage. The claim I am challenging here is that RFE radiation has no negative effects on health whatsoever. In one of the sources used in this blog post it clearly states that through testing evidence was produced that supports the idea of RFE’s harming ones health in various ways, especially in sensitive individuals. Even so it was concluded to be safe. To me the results sound inconclusive and the conclusions premature. See for yourself.
              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17692567

              What you say about alpha particles is only half correct. While alpha particles aren’t likely to penetrate your skin, they become extremely harmful if ingested or inhaled. In fact alpha radiation is the most destructive form of ionizing radiation.

              You are correct when you say we probably receive much more radiation from the sun than we do from appliances. As far as us being exposed to equal or less radiation than our ancestors, not so much. As you may know certain radioactive particles take millions of years to decay into a state where they are no longer dangerous. When Chernobyl blew up nuclear fallout was spread across the entire globe, which ended up in oceans and on food crops. Because of this, to this very day radioactive particles from that disaster exist in every single one of us. Identical situation when it comes to the more recent Fukushima incident. Due to things like this there is actually a “normal” level of radiation present in all people which was documented to have risen abruptly in children born after the events of Chernobyl.

      • Kaitlyn

        Exactly!!!! It’s not rocket science it’s common sense. It’s not natural to use a microwave. They make BILLIONS off of disease and cancer, why would they recomend something that’s actually healthy? All the scientific “studies” are funded by big pharma and Monsanto I GUARENTEE you. Seriously have some common sense!! (to the person who wrote this article)

      • Mike

        The supposed rise of the preventable diseases you mention can easily be dismissed by the fact that life expectancy has risen. Children that died climbing chimneys to clean them for example, didn’t live long enough to develop cancer or alzheimers disease. There is no actual rise in the incidence of these conditions, just a rise in people living long enough to be affected. The work of Hans Rosling may open your eyes a little.

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    • GStorm

      I guess it comes down to trusting the USFDA. Most of the time that’s probably okay but it is still a one-stop shop opportunity for lobbyists.

      • Not entirely. There’s plenty of academic research on this that the FDA has nothing at all to do with. There’s also the matter of physics: the effects of this kind of radiation are known.

        • Tim Tian

          It just occurred to me that the people who believe this are probably the same people who believe homeopathy.

          • Patrick Cardon

            I agree, and those are people that regardless of many test-results and the fact that something has not cause any real issues worldwide, will still refuse to accept reality. In some cases I am inclined to think of hypochondriacs who are perfectly healthy but will refuse to admit it. With these ridiculous claims on the Internet however it is also affecting people who are not thinking reasonably. This is just a scare tactic (guess it’s their way to exert a form of control on the outside world) and proves that in some ways we have no evolved from the alchemy and witchcraft stories of the very dark middle ages unfortunately. It’s really sad for the people refusing to accept reality, but it’s downright criminal to keep scaring others like that.

            • Timothy

              Refusing to accept “reality”? I’m not defending those who believe the internet claims of the dangers of microwaves. But to dismiss those of us who are skeptical of FDA and skeptical of the belief that the lack of evidence constitutes a PROOF of absence (of damage) is a bit of a sweeping generalization. Science can tell us much about a part of reality. It has been notoriously blind, however, to what it does not know. We need to be skeptical of anyone who claims to have the hold on reality.

    • francis karenit

      dr emotos water crystals tell a different story…I still dont trust microwaves….not one little bit.

      • vindimy

        hahaha water crystals ? you mean .. ice ? yeah .. I wouldn’t trust my microwave to preserve ice . duh ! it’s for heating .

        on a serious note , it’s thanks to gullible people like you why ‘dr. emoto’ can live off the income of his / her b.s. ‘invention’.

      • KBM

        OMG, I just looked up Dr. Emoto and his so called experiments. Quack science at it finest. He actually thinks that talking to water changes its ability to form crystals. How can anyone who has the ability to think and reason actually believe what he states as proof based on so called scientific experiments.

    • midwestmomof2

      What is NOT mentioned in this article are the effects of the use of microwave ovens over long periods of time. Along with the increase in fast foods (usually cooked in microwave ovens) our society’s overall health HAS been seriously declining for decades. Others can feel free to be guinea pigs, but, I choose not to be one.

      • Patrick Cardon

        Did you actually read what’s inside those fast “food” things? Don’t you think the ingredients are a lot more to blame than the fact it’s been microwaved? Then again, in that case you would have to admit that most things stacked on supermarket shelves can logically no longer be considered food and should be removed from the market … leaving vegetables, meat, fish, bread and the likes. And that is way less glamorous than the crap with unintelligible ingredients they’re selling us. I started not buying things where I could not understand the ingredients, still microwaving the food I cook myself, and my health has actually improved. I know thinking is no longer thought at schools, but as adults one should be able to logically sort through information and come to the correct conclusion … not to the conclusion pressed upon us by people wanting to grab attention by scaring us.

    • dhdjfj

      I just think microwaved food tastes disgusting….the reason I don’t bother owning one.

    • Susan Diebold

      What about the Mercola information I found on the web that strongly disputes your conclusions. I admit I am not educated about microwaves and changing food nutrition, but I am investigating and find contradicting information. Whom do I believe?

      • Nick Anderson

        You can’t really beleive most of the things you find on the Internet. There are some open access academic peer reviewed journals you can find, however most of these peer reviewed journals are going to be found in a database that you must pay for. The key is finding peer reviewed articles. Basically if it is just posted on some site you must be very critical of the information and do further digging to validate the source. In this article there is mention to several journals which does make this article a bit more credible but it would still be wise to actually look up those articles and read the information yourself.

      • Golden

        Mercola has their own agenda (generating fear and doubt so they can sell you overpriced stuff). There are some good answers here in the comments about looking for credible peer reviewed studies.

    • Rooey

      everything tastes worse cooked in the microwave. especially vegetables… they always come out looking sad and tasting like nothing… no spanks!

      • Patrick Cardon

        And you mean to tell us that boiling them keeps their taste? If you want them to retain a maximum of taste and nutrients steam them … but boiling is by far the worst manner of preparing food. Or even better, eat them raw, can’t have more taste and nutrients than that.

    • Patrick Cardon

      Thanks for this very complete piece of information. Though I doubt that the hypochondriacs that keep scaring others based on beliefs and not proof, will not change their minds and will keep trying to scare as many people as possible. In many ways not different from the witchcraft and alchemy stories from the very dark middle ages … we think we are more educated but reality sadly contradicts that too much.

    • Jefferson Presley

      the absence of evidence doesn’t connote the absence of its effect. But, do we have to wait to such report where there is one died from this?…what a world!!!

      anyway, the way it says it harm people is due to the exposure of human to its leakage radiation and radiation can kill tissues and The lesser the energy of the radiation, is the more it harm people because it doesn’t have enough energy to penetrate one’s body one’s it stays inside tissues will be irradiated and be damage and led to cancer.

    • Ellen

      Hello Nick,

      I believe you missed this most significant German and Russian research

      http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/health-hazards-to-know-about/microwave-ovens-the-proven-dangers

      Happy Thoughts
      Ellen

      • Justin Haskell

        Rule of thumb to spot a site selling sham science, look for the store. This is no better than naturalnews

    • Estudo ondas eletromagnéticas a mais de 10 anos e faço inúmeros tetes práticos, posso dizer que meu corpo passou todo tipo de experiências com a energia eletromagnética, incluso testes com o meu cérebro, e faço exames periódicos e jamais houve quaisquer alteração, pelo contrário, me sinto melhor a cada dia.

      Study electromagnetic waves more than 10 years and do numerous practical tetes, I can say that my body went all sorts of experiments with electromagnetic energy, included tests with my brain, and do periodic examinations and there was never any change, however, I I feel better every day.

    • Bria

      Sad. Sad. Sad.

    • Jon

      People believe what they want to believe and will find information to support their beliefs and lucky for them the internet is full of beliefs.

      I don’t side with junk science. This whole microwaves being dangerous to your health is junk science at its finest. People need to point the finger at something or someone for all of the worlds ills.

      This is right up there with vaccines causing autism. And the droves of brainless idiots refusing to vaccinate their children and that idiot Jenny McCarthy trying to tell people she cured her son of autism which is impossible. But since she said she did millions of fools believe her.

      • Brad

        ‘’droves of brainless idiots refusing to vaccinate their children”

        FYI darling, I worked for a company specialized in DNA research and the answer I received from over 12 top class MSc. researchers (with dozen of published works each) was: I would only vaccinate my child or myself with a very limited number of vaccines (with 20+years
        since in use) and only for really dangerous diseases.

        Anything new or the seasonal flu: just stay away from them.

        • trapperjohn10

          Would you be able to share which vaccines are considered worth the risk? I’m thinking that the list would probably include small pox, polio, tetanus, malaria, hepatitis as among the most important. Thanks

        • ThisGuy

          Darling, can you also post links to these dozen of published works?

    • Yvonne
      • Justin Haskell

        Naturalnews is a sham site built to scare you into giving them money for their products. NEXT!

    • John

      It’s really disturbing that so much of our population has not yet come into any form of enlightenment, and that they continue to live in the dark ages of faith and personal belief and bias. Put simply, the world doesn’t revolve around your opinions. It works based on physical laws (please understand!: laws that describe, not dictate).

      Stop spouting your backward beliefs as fact. Stop slamming science and fact tested by educated people who actually know what they’re talking about. Yes, sometimes gut feeling might be right. But something established scientifically as fact is by definition, fact. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Many of you have no degree in chemistry or physics, yet you toss about your “beliefs” as fact. You don’t even know what the photoelectric effect is; how can you sit there and dispute that it is wrong. Are you smarter than Einstein?

      Stop talking, and learn something. You’ll find the world a lot more interesting.

      • Andrew Lincicome

        I have a degree in chemistry! Yay me

    • For those who claim that an absence of evidence doesn’t prove anything:
      Can you prove that purple polka-dotted tennis balls are not an alien race about to take over the world and enslave and eat human beings? “Oh”, you say, “that’s absurd, there is no evidence at all of that.”

      Exactly. Just as there is no credible evidence that microwave ovens are unsafe. Sure, science is imperfect, the FDA is imperfect, the world is imperfect. But science and the FDA are the best things we have going in this context, and if you want to make rational decisions as opposed to hysterical and silly decisions then you have to use the best information available. (Grandstanding fear-mongers are the worst thing we have going in this domain, by the way.)

      Feel free to not use a microwave oven. But please kindly don’t tell me not to use one, and please don’t tell your friends they are unsafe, because you have no credible evidence to back your assertion!

    • William

      I am not going to dispute or argue the article. It seems well written and has good sources. I just want to ask the why do we have so much cancer and mental disorder these days.

      Could it be a combination of GMO food, microwaves, prescription drugs and advanced western medicine?

      Just posing the question? Wanting the answer!

      • mikhailovitch

        The main reason, particularly for cancer, is that actually we are SO much healthier than we used to be that we are living much longer. Unless you are a heavy smoker, or are in a highly radioactive work situation, or are out in the sun all day, the greatest single risk factor for cancer is age. Cancer is natural. Dinosaurs had it. Live long enough, and if heart disease doesn’t get you, cancer probably will.
        There are hundreds of wholly natural things that increase your risk of cancer. There are also artificial things, but most of them are no worse than the natural ones. There was a great song once, called “Everything, Gives You Cancer”. It’s not quite true, but pretty close. There is, for example, way more evidence that eating cooked red meat increases your chances of getting cancer, than there is evidence for microwave cooking causing any ill effects whatsoever.
        And I wonder why you suggest it’s a combination of all the factors you listed.
        Yes, it is advanced Western medicine, really – because it keeps us alive for long enough that the almost inevitable cancer actually gets a chance to kill us, because medicine has stopped all those other things from killing us first.

    • Nomadcanuck I

      yes well They said that DDT etc. was safe and They are saying the roundup is safe etc….. so take it from there

    • bob

      Hi im bob and i would like to say i put mydick in the micro wave and now its green what do i do?!?!?! is there a problem here?

      • Maryellen Zepczyk Race

        something is wrong with your microwave.

    • inotowok

      For all new technologies, it seems we have the burden of proof set on the wrong side. Instead of having to prove that microwaves (or any new technology with public health implications) are unsafe, manufacturers should have to prove that it is safe.

    • Hibiscus Rex

      · Effect on broccoli: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.1585/abstract
      · Effect on B12: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10554220
      · Effect on human milk: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/89/4/667.abstract
      · Effect on nutritional value of cell culture medium: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24669932
      · Effect of cooking methods on foal meat: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24583332
      · Effect in 60 seconds on garlic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11238815?dopt=Abstract
      · Effect on Brassica juncea: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24741177
      · Effect on iodine content of salt: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24426037
      · Microwave cooking increases harmful effects of aflatoxin-contaminated maize: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24689855
      · Effects of long-term microwave exposure: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25542888

      • Justin Haskell

        “exposed to 2.856GHz microwaves with the average power density of 5, 10, 20 or 30mW/cm(2) respectively for 6min three times a week up to 6weeks.” Microwave ovens, by law, MUST operate at NO MORE than 5mW. So there goes the long term exposure for microwave ovens. The studies are for pure microwaves in HIGH concentration, not what a microwave oven will produce.

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    • Zohan Fab

      High-frequency pulsed microwave radiation interferes with the natural electro-magnetic integrated power grid of water. As a result the hydrogen bonds are breaking, the structure of water is becoming destabilised and the microbiology is being thrown off balance. With worldwide mobile telephony the entire water household of Planet Earth and of all living organisms is affected. This has severe implications, for there is no life without water. Water does not only quench thirst, but it also plays a role in cell-to-cell communication, metabolism, it binds cell structures together, and it is needed to flush out waste material and poisons. All these natural capacities of water or affected by the microwave technology.

    • Constitution Man

      Nick, thanks for a refreshingly fact-based discussion of something that some non-scientists worry about.

      I’m a Ph.D. physicist from a top US university. Permit me to weigh in on one point that is not correct. You said–

      – Concerning the effects of Microwaves on Water: According to Louis A. Bloomfield Ph.D., a Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia and the author of the book How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary, “Microwaves don’t affect the molecular structure of the food, except through the thermal effects we associate with normal cooking (e.g., denaturing of proteins with heat and caramelizing of sugars). That’s because, like all electromagnetic waves, microwaves are emitted and absorbed as particles called “photons.” The energy in a microwave photon is so tiny that it can’t cause any chemical rearrangement in a molecule. Instead, it can only add a tiny amount of heat to a water molecule.” (23)

      All electromagnetic radiation can be described as both a particle and a wave, but for microwave radiation, the particle description has little meaning.

      What truly matters is the *energy* of the radiation. Does it have enough energy to form oxygen radicals from water or molecular oxygen, or not? These radicals are the active agent that damages tissue and rewrites DNA, sometimes causing cancer. If it does, it is called “ionizing radiation.”

      Ionization begins with hugely higher energy light, like ultraviolet. Microwave radiation can wiggle molecules of water or oil and give them heat, but it cannot dissociate anything–it has far too little energy.

      So–the photon “size”, whatever that is, has nothing to do with damaging tissue. Gamma ray photons are extremely small, extremely high energy, and extremely damaging.

      It is completely about how much energy each quantum of radiation (that is, photon) carries, which in the case of microwaves, is very, very small. No ionization, so no cancer.

      Cheers!

    • Neil Creed

      The FDA is a corrupt organisation that cant be trusted

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    • Incredible how often people like this make claims with an argument to ignorance. And not digging deeply enough is just plain laziness.

      http://realfarmacy.com/microwave-free-year-microwave-cooking-trading-cancer-convenience/

      Too many corporations spend Billions of Dollars to shut up or to ridicule real science which jeopardizes their bottom line. They’re not looking out for their customers; they’re being greedy jerks looking out for their shareholders. That’s the nature of ALL corporations. They’re based upon selfishness. To expect anything else form them is entirely naive.

      Do more research. I was skeptical ten minutes ago, until I finished the above article. Then I understood just how microwaves could cause cancer. Still doesn’t prove it to me, but it makes me more cautious and more interested in digging deeper. Heck, I might just invent a way to make microwaves safer.

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    • Kohan Corey

      this article is crap..my roommate and I gave up microwave food and we feel much better and that’s all I need to know. The proof is right there. We both sleep better and no more queesey stomach crap. Virtually all the microwave sickness symptoms are gone. I cant argue with that.

    • usaok59

      It really just depends on who funds the study as to the results! Call me skeptical of everything, anymore.

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    • deadguy366

      Hey so I know this discussion is incredibly old but I just have one more small point to make. There are many many examples of when we as the general public were told something was 100% safe in the past only to find out later on it absolutely wasn’t.

      Please do a little research on the leaded gasoline everyone inhaled for 60 years after it had already been discovered to be extremely poisonous. The FDA was perfectly okay with that shit and it took an enormous amount of work from independent ethical scientists and many decades to finally get the lead taken out of gas (and many other products). They actually didn’t want to stop poisoning all of America even after they knew.

      Like I said, this is not some crazy conspiracy theory and I encourage anyone to do their own research on the subject. It’s very well documented.

      My point here is people need to look at the lead example. There was tons of evidence of its harmful effects but that information was easily suppressed for many years through corruption. If you don’t think things like this are possible to repeat themselves then you are one sad naive person.