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Do Microwave Ovens Pose Hidden Health Risks?

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microwave 2Like 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 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 http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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Article updated on: April 7th, 2014

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