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Do Microwave Ovens Pose Hidden Health Risks?


microwave 2 Like vaccines and cell phones, the safety of microwave ovens is the subject of heated debate. Some voices within the natural health community have expressed concern that the appliance poses multiple health risks, while most voices from the allopathic medical community insist these concerns have no foundation. Who is right?

With people in America on both sides of the debate, each saying that science backs up their views, it’s hard to get to the bottom of the issue and sort out fact from fiction. Live in the Now sought the opinion of Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., Medical Advisory Board Member of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association. As a nutritionist as well as a practitioner with both allopathic and naturopathic credentials, she is more qualified than most experts to evaluate whether the concerns have merit.

Dean asserts that microwaves may indeed present many health dangers. When asked why medical opinions are so divided and why many discount the risks, she gives the following astute insights. “This disconnect has happened on so many levels: mercury fillings in teeth, mercury in vaccines, fluoride in dental products … Decisions are made based on economics, and the products are never tested for safety and long-term health. Then the various industries are afraid to say they made a mistake because they could be held accountable. Therefore, the mistake stands and is often rigorously defended. And people suffer the consequences.”

Microwaves Destroy the Nutrient Content of Food

The doctor conveyed in no uncertain terms that microwaves destroy the nutrient content of food. “Microwaves work by heating food to very high levels, which breaks apart cell walls. Consequently, enzymes and nutrients leak out and disintegrate in the high temperatures because they are no longer protected inside the cells. That alone tells us that food cooked in microwaves is completely dead. Devoid of life means the food has no enzyme activity and most of its nutrients are burnt off. Additionally, heat from microwaves will also coagulate protein and make it very hard to digest,” Dean said.

Russia Banned Microwaves in 1976

In searching for the truth, something to factor into the equation is that Russia had banned microwaves after finding an extensive array of safety concerns. The Nazis invented these appliances during WWII. At the conclusion of the war, Russian scientists conducted thorough research on its biological effects. Disturbed by what the researchers uncovered, the country banned microwaves in 1976 but later removed the ban in Perestroika. Here are a few of the alarming health risks the studies revealed.

  • Eating microwaved food results in an increased percentage of cancer cells in the blood along with the development of intestinal and stomach cancerous growths. This kind of cooking changes food chemistry in such a way that the lymphatic system is impaired, making the body less able to protect itself from cancer.
  • Microwaving produces carcinogens in milk and cereals.
  • Microwaving destroys 60 to 90 percent of the nutrient value of some foods.
  • Consuming microwaved foods decreases the body’s ability to use vitamin C, vitamin E, B-complex vitamin and essential minerals.
  • The microwave field next to the appliance causes a broad spectrum of health disorders.

What Does Research That Is More Recent Show?

  • Microwaves Can Harm Your Heart: A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Oncology found “unequivocal evidence” that the type of radiation emitted by microwaves has a detrimental effect on the heart. Researcher Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University said it was the first study that documented “immediate and dramatic changes in both heart rate and heart rate variability.”
  • Microwaves Produce Compounds Not Found in Nature: These chemicals are called radiolytic byproducts. It is thought that when they are consumed over a prolonged period, they can lead to health issues, especially for young children.
  • Microwaves Can Change Your Blood Chemistry: A short-term study found alterations in the blood chemistry of people who consumed microwaved milk and vegetables. The cholesterol level rose, while the hemoglobin and white blood cell count declined.
  • Microwaves May Cause Cataracts: Some labs in the U.S. have found that prolonged exposure to low-level radiation may cause cataracts.

Dangers of Packaged Microwave Food

Concerns about microwaving aren’t limited to the radiation and cooking process itself: they also extend to the packaging of microwavable foods. Microwave popcorn is immensely popular, but many of the popcorn bags are coated with Teflon, a substance containing chemicals that can be metabolized to carcinogens.

Additionally, chemicals from most plastics, including Styrofoam and food wrap, can contaminate food when heated in a microwave. Scientists disagree on the potential health effects of this problem.

Minimize Your Use of Microwave Ovens

By no means are the above health issues an exhaustive list of concerns associated with microwaves. Even if only some of them are valid, it seems like a good idea to stop using this appliance completely. Dr. Joseph Mercola, natural health guru provides these suggestions to help you make this adjustment.

  • Try using your toaster oven to reheat leftovers.
  • The use of convection ovens are another quick, safe way to heat food.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, so you won’t need to defrost foods in the microwave to prepare dinner.

However, if you feel you still need to use a microwave, here are some common sense practices that can reduce your risks.

  • Only use it for reheating.
  • Don’t stand directly in front of it when it is on.
  • Don’t put any plastic containers in the microwave. Warm up food in microwave-safe glass, ceramic or Pyrex dishes.
  • Don’t turn on the microwave unless its door is closed.
  • Don’t use it to cook frozen or packaged food.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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5 responses to “Do Microwave Ovens Pose Hidden Health Risks?”

  1. Richard says:

    The whole reasoning of your article is compromised by your basic premise, “Microwaves work by heating food to very high levels”. This means all the damage to the food could be being caused by the simple overcooking of the food, which would apply to any kind of oven, not just microwaves. In cooking food there is no obligation to heat food to any specific level, high or low. Indeed, it is the overcooking food that is universally known to destroy the basic enzymes and nutrients in the food. You need completely different scientific tests, for example, repeatedly heating foods to luke-warm levels, to make any statement at all about the safety of microwaves.

    • Brian Connor says:

      Richard, perhaps you mean well, but you sound like an industrial apologist to me. Just my humble opinion.

  2. Sandy Eisner says:

    I am fighting, and winning, “malabsorption syndrome due to gastric bypass”. A doctor used scare tactics to convince me to have it in 1999. I gave up on doctors. I do have formal and informal training in biochem/nutrition especially the krebs cycle. Looking at all sources I can find that might help. Just found you. This killed my mother one and a half years ago. Very painful death. I’m using natural supplements, watching what forms/isotopes (closed ring v open ring, etc). Main problems seem to be nerve damage (taking TheNeuropathyGroup program) and osteoporosis (taking AlgaeCal program). I’ve extensively checked these supplements (companies and forms) and I’m sure they are helping tremendously. Had drymouth so bad I couldn’t eat for YEARS. New dentist is actually helping with that – he had to pull the rest of my top teeth and a course of antibiotics. I can actually eat now, I just don’t want it. Having trouble with getting use to the false teeth. I was a public speaker. Unaddressed issues: hives in the last 2 months (no idea what triggered them) and extremely weak. Moving around as much as I can, trying to sit in the yard with my laptop (not in my lap). Looking to improve my husband’s and my health. Have to buy food at the grocery store (yuck); I miss wild game and home grown veggies. Searching for advice.

    • Mary West says:

      Hi Sandy,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your health problems.

      Research finds that our diet has a profound effect on our health. Try to eat as much “live” food as you can. By that I mean fresh raw fruits and vegetables as well as raw nuts and seeds. Limit red meat and avoid pork.

      Studies published on PubMed also show the xanthones in the mangosteen fruit are helpful in alleviating a broad spectrum of health maladies. You may want to research the subject and start taking mangosteen juice.

      Take care.

    • Mary West says:

      Just one more thing. I encourage you to see a naturopath or natural health practitioner.