July 12th, 2011

Debunking An Internet Hoax: What Science Really Says About Microwave Ovens, Your Food And Your Health

“Microwave ovens will kill you!” Or so they say… If you’ve ever surfed the internet for information on health and nutrition, there’s little doubt you’ve come across scare stories about microwave ovens. Online natural health “experts” claim that microwaves will “zap” your food, deplete it of important nutrients and alter its molecular structure in dangerous ways. They also warn that microwave exposure and eating food cooked in microwave ovens will cause harm to your body and even cause cancer!

Is there any truth to any of these reports? Why are some people so paranoid about an appliance that has been used safely by millions of people for decades? Should you stop using a microwave oven for reheating leftovers, making frozen dinners or cooking your vegetables, potatoes, meat, oatmeal or other foods?

These are important questions because: A) your health is your number one priority and B) the microwave oven, while it may not replace a conventional oven and certainly doesn’t produce better tasting food, is unquestionably one of the greatest time savers and conveniences you can have in your kitchen.

You’re not only about to get the answers, this also will be the last article about the microwave controversy you’ll ever have to read because it demolishes the microwave myths with undeniable proof: facts, science and evidence… not urban legends and fear mongering.

What started all the internet scare stories?

Rumors are often started and circulated on the internet without anyone ever confirming the source. Did you ever get one of those random emails that said something like, “10 reasons to throw out your microwave” and then forward it right on to a friend, just assuming it was true? (go ahead, fess up).

A large part of all the microwave alarmism today can be traced back to a single story that was spread on the internet until it went viral and was eventually accepted as factual.  It’s the story of the infamous “Swiss research” done by “food researcher” Hans Hertel, who allegedly performed his own private study to see how microwaved foods affected the results of blood tests. A typical iteration of the story goes like this:

“The use of microwave ovens in cooking can alter the structure of nutriments in foods, making it difficult for the organism to make use of them. Hertel discovered that food cooked or thawed in a microwave oven could cause changes in the blood, indicating that a process of illness is developing. SIMILAR CHANGES ARE ALSO FOUND IN THE CASE OF CANCER.”

As with most alarmist nutrition nonsense on the net, this one also involves the ubiquitous conspiracy theory. The story continues:

“The best studies about the use of microwaves to heat food were purposely kept from consumers. Hertel was efficiently “gagged” by Swiss microwave oven producers. For over 10 years, Hertel has fought for the right to tell the world what he’d discovered.”

Actually the best studies are NOT kept from consumers, they are peer reviewed, replicated and published in scientific journals where we can actually look them up. Alas, we cannot access Hertel’s “research” to judge its validity because it was never published.

In fact, by Hertel and his follower’s own accounts, this “study” was just himself, Bernard Blanc (who later recanted) and six of their buddies who locked themselves in a hotel room and conducted a personal and arguably non-scientific and non-controlled experiment. This is not real research; it was never verified or replicated by other researchers. Yet you see Hertel quoted in almost every “microwaves equal death” article on the Internet, a good tipoff that everything else in the article is suspect as well.

Microwave ovens, radiation and the cancer scare

One tactic used by microwave scaremongers is to instill fears about radiation and cancer.  When people hear the word radiation, they tend to freak out.  I suspect that even people who understand that we’re not talking about a nuclear accident, gamma rays or x rays still have an uncomfortable feeling about “radiation” cooking their food (after all, we call it “nuking” right?)

But when we talk about microwave “radiation” we are simply talking about production of thermal energy, aka, heat. Radiation and radioactive are NOT the same thing. Celeste Robb-Nicholson, M.D. from the Harvard Health Review explains:

“Microwaves do not cause cancer. They’re a form of non-ionizing radiation and thus cannot ionize tissue. Microwave ovens use low-frequency waves of electrical and magnetic energy to produce heat to cook food. They don’t make food radioactive, nor do they trigger cancer-causing genetic mutations.”

A search of the medical literature brings up absolutely nothing linking microwave cooking to cancer.

The research says that concern over cancer causing compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), would be better directed toward educating consumers on the charring and blackening that occurs when grilling or barbecuing muscle meats, rather than cooking the meat in microwave ovens.

In fact, cooking in a microwave can actually REDUCE the formation of HCAs. This quote comes from the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov):

“Studies have shown that microwaving meat prior to cooking helps to decrease mutagens by removing the precursors. Meats that were microwaved for 2 minutes prior to cooking had a 90-percent decrease in HCA content.”

Microwave radiation leaks

Although microwaves are a form of non-ionizing radiation, you wouldn’t want prolonged exposure to them at high power any more than you’d want to stick your head in the conventional oven on high and leave it there.  You also wouldn’t turn the temperature up in your house to 325 degrees to roast a turkey – the idea is to cook the bird, not you.  So what if the microwaves get OUT of the oven? Could they hurt you then?

In the early days of the microwave oven, leaks were more of a concern due to imperfect oven designs. Due to federal standards and improved engineering today, experts agree that this is now a non-issue. According to the FDA, there is little cause for concern about microwaves leaking from the oven unless the door hinges, latch or seals are damaged. (you can always buy a leak detector if you’re paranoid).

If you’re still worried, simply back away from the microwave while it’s running. Microwave energy rapidly dissipates as you move away from the source. Also, the way microwaves are manufactured, the second the door is open the device shuts down and no radiation leaks out after you’ve opened the door.

Do microwave ovens alter the molecular structure of food in unhealthy ways?

NO! There’s no evidence that microwave cooking alters the molecular structure of the food in a damaging and unhealthy way.

At Mercola dot com, which claims to the #1 natural health website online, the controversial alternative-natural health doctor Joseph Mercola has published alarmist articles that have spread microwave worries all across the internet like wildfire.

Mercola claims that microwave ovens are a toxic threat to you and your family. He says that “microwaving distorts and deforms the molecules of whatever food or other substance you subject it to.”

Well, no kidding the molecules change; that’s called cooking and the molecular changes caused by cooking a food in a microwave are no different and no more harmful than the heating of a food any other way.

Conveniently, Dr. Mercola, who has received numerous warning letters from the FDA for making unsubstantiated claims in marketing, will be glad to sell you his convection oven after you read his article that scares you into throwing out your microwave.

Mercola also claims that “your microwave turns your beautiful, organic veggies, for which you’ve paid such a premium in money or labor, into “dead” food that can cause disease.”

Wrong again. There’s been no human research ever published to prove that microwaved foods cause disease, just a bunch of conspiracy theories and alarmist rantings.

However, a Dutch study in 1995 that was published in the journal Food Chemistry did conduct a toxicity experiment on rats using human food that found the opposite. The researchers intentionally subjected the food to misuse treatment by reheating in a microwave repeatedly to make sure to concentrate any potentially harmful substances. The tests were exhaustive and no harmful effects were found:

“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. The results indicate no adverse effects of the diets cooked by microwave compared with those cooked conventionally.”

Do microwave ovens zap the nutrition right out of your food?

What about the criticisms that nutrients get “zapped” right out of the food when you “nuke” them? They’re factual aren’t they? There’s a sliver of truth to this, but all cooking can destroy nutrients. What the microwave critics don’t tell you is that microwave cooking can actually preserve nutrients better than some other cooking methods like boiling. Minerals hold up particularly very well.

At least two studies did raise concern over major flavonoid losses in broccoli and one over vitamin C. One of the studies showed a 97% loss of flavonoids in the broccoli, which has been the basis of the “microwaves zap nutrients” myth ever since.  If microwave fear-mongers actually read the studies however (imagine that), they would see that the major nutrient losses were created by cooking the veggies in a lot of water.

Nutrient losses while microwaving depend mostly on cooking power, cooking duration and volume of cooking water.  The studies did not conclude that you shouldn’t cook in a microwave oven, they concluded that steaming is the preferred method for retaining the most nutrients in vegetables and that if you cook broccoli or other veggies in a microwave, don’t overcook them and don’t cook them in water.

Vitamin losses from cooking meat in the microwave have also been studied. A 1998 study from Japan showed a 30% loss of vitamin B-12 from cooking meats in a microwave. However, it’s not a massive nutrient loss compared to boiled vegetables and since B-12 is heat sensitive, similar losses occur from conventional cooking as well, so once again it’s not a microwave-exclusive problem.

Many people don’t care for microwaved meat anyway (the common joke is “tastes like rubber”), but all things considered, studies say that microwaving your veggies is not a bad way to cook them. In fact, some research says microwaving retains more nutrients due to the fast cooking times. A 1982 study by Cross and Fung published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition concluded:

“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.”

Will microwaves destroy your precious protein?

Here’s an issue that concerns some of us bodybuilders and fitness minded folks:  Does microwave cooking damage or denature protein?  This too has been researched and once again the microwave fear-mongers are wrong when they claim that microwaving ruins the protein.

In the Journal of Scientific Food Agriculture, Jonker and colleagues wrote:

“In general, the nutritive value of proteins in foods is comparable, whether cooking is done by microwaves or conventional means…”

Cooking at high temperatures has potential to denature protein, but that’s an excess  heat issue, not a microwave oven issue.  The amount of denaturation depends on how long and at what temperature the food is cooked.  Some of the more delicate biological subfractions could be damaged or destroyed in proteins like whey, but that doesn’t mean the protein quality or amino acids themselves are destroyed.

On a related macronutrient note, research from Poland studied the effect of conventional cooking versus microwaving on essential fatty acids in herring. There was no damage to the omega-3 fatty acids.

Non uniform heating of food: Caution! Watch out for hot spots!

Have you ever noticed how some parts of your microwaved food are cooked thoroughly and others are still luke warm or even cold? It can definitely be annoying, but experts have expressed a serious concern over the potential for burns in adults, children and infants because one portion of the food can be cool or warm and another scalding hot.

Microwave technology has improved over the years to help mitigate this “hot spot” problem (including rotating carousels), but non-uniform heating is always somewhat of an issue to be aware of when consuming food cooked with microwave ovens.

This problem is easily solved with a little common sense and caution. Just mix or stir your food, and let it stand briefly before eating it. Eat hot food with caution.

Bacteria worries

Health alarmists often publish claims that deadly and dangerous bacteria can survive in foods cooked in a microwave oven. There have indeed been case studies published in medical journals about listeria, ecoli and salmonella. But guess what – it can happen with any cooking method if the meat isn’t cooked completely.

Microwave ovens are used most often for reheating food, but some people use microwaves to cook raw meats. Because microwave ovens may heat food non-uniformly, if you try to you cook a whole, stuffed chicken in the microwave, some areas may not get cooked completely, so ecoli or listeria, if present, may not be destroyed.

If you don’t want to take any chances, don’t cook whole raw chickens in the microwave!

Same thing with eggs. Lightly cooked eggs could harbor salmonella. Whether you’re using a microwave or a conventional stovetop to cook eggs, make sure they’re fully cooked. Salmonella risk from eating raw eggs is very low, but eat them raw at your own risk (you only need ONE good case of food poisoning in your lifetime to never ever want to experience it again).

By the way Rocky Balboa wannabes, a study from the Journal of Nutrition showed that eggs are more digestible when they’re cooked, not raw.

Exploding eggs?

Speaking of eggs, this may sound strange, but there have been at least four papers published in medical journals which reported cases of eye injuries from the explosion of microwaved eggs.

One published in the journal of ophthalmology in 1998 wrote up two case studies and said that the flying hot eggs caused serious injuries:

“The first patient required limbal conjunctival transplantation and a subsequent penetrating keratoplasty in the right eye and prolonged treatment of superficial keratitis in the left eye. The second patient sustained bilateral corneal epithelial defects and unilateral intrastromal hemorrhage.”

I don’t cook my eggs in the microwave, I think they have the texture of rubber.  But if you nuke yours, ironically, there’s more legitimacy to a rare freak exploding hot egg accident than the ridiculous claims of cancer.

Also, on a slightly tangential, but related note, the eye is a vulnerable organ due to the anatomy and physiology of the lens, so it’s prone to overheating with overexposure to microwaves. This would only be a danger in the kitchen if your microwave oven screen or door mechanism were faulty and you sat there with your nose pressed up against the glass (see section on radiation leaks above).

Microwaved milk and infant formula dangers?

Anti microwave websites often mention that microwave-heated baby formulas and breast milk should not be fed to infants, based on potential damage to the milk itself or potential burn injuries.

One study from the Stanford University School of Medicine was published in the journal Pediatrics. They tested 22 human milk samples for lysozyme activity, total IgA, and specific secretory IgA to E coli by heating them by microwave at various low and high power settings. They concluded that microwaving appears to be contraindicated at high temperatures due to nutrient damage, and questioned microwave use even at lower temperatures.

The Stanford study is selectively quoted all the time by anti-microwave groups. What about the rest of the research? A study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition said, “microwave heating of human milk can be performed without significant losses of examined immunoglobulins and nutrients, provided the final temperatures are below 60 degrees C.”

Also, let me quote Jonker again from The Journal of Scientific  Food Agrigulture:

“When the microwave treatment is well controlled to avoid overheating, such biological properties as the clotting activity of plasma and antibacterial activities are reasonably maintained.”

As I mentioned earlier, it appears that overheating any food with any cooking method could destroy a small portion of the nutrients, but it doesn’t make the food harmful to eat. As noted above, heating in a microwave does not create or add any toxic compounds to foods or drinks.

Superheated liquids? (It made “MYTHBUSTERS”)

Burns are a possible safety concern due to the uneven heating of food. There’s also a potential danger for anyone to get scalded due to overheated liquids (or steam).

In microwave ovens, the water can become superheated past its boiling point and yet bubbles don’t form. When the liquid is disturbed or something is dropped in it, like sugar, the heat is released, and it’s possible for boiling water to bubble over and out of the container.

There’s an urban legend that that microwaved water can explode in your face. While it may not explode literally, this is not a complete myth – microwave water or hot beverages can bubble over aka “erupt” due to the superheating phenomenon (water in a liquid state that is over 100 degrees celsius). This was actually tested on an episode of MythBusters (video below).

Burns from liquids could happen to adults, children or infants from overheating or spills. In one unfortunate case study from a hospital, the teat from an infant’s bottle that had been heated in the microwave exploded scalding hot milk on the child resulting in extremely serious burn injuries to the face, mouth, trachea, palate, pharynx and esophagus.

Of course, grown adults have been known to burn themselves in kitchen mishaps or even on McDonalds coffee (and then sue). But don’t blame the microwave (or Mcdonalds), just be careful of hot stuff, folks. Hot stuff burns, you know.

What about about plastics releasing toxins into the food?

Lots of people are worried about cooking in plastic containers these days. Can’t chemicals leach out of the plastic and into your food? Sometimes they can. But that’s what microwave-safe containers are for.

A Greek study found that dioctyladipate (DOA) and acetyltributylcitrate (ATBC) plasticizers from food-grade PVC and PVDC/PVC leak into olive oil and water when cooked in the microwave.

A study from the European food research and technology journal found that DOA and ATBC plasticizers from plasticized poly(vinyl chloride) and poly(vinylidene chloride/vinyl chloride) films migrated into ground meat of varying fat content during microwave heating.

The most recent concerns have been over Bisphenol A (BPA), a plasticizer used in polycarbonate plastics such as storage containers, bottles and even can liners. How much can leach into food, under what circumstances and what are the health consequences are hotly debated and this subject goes far beyond the scope of this article.

Even though there’s some truth to the concerns about plastics, they’re often overblown and mixed in with myths (the dioxin chain email hoax comes to mind). And of relevance to our discussion, this is not a microwave problem, it’s a heating of certain plastics problem.

The simple solution: use only plastic containers that are microwave-safe or to be absolutely sure, stick with corning ware, ceramics or microwave safe glass. If you cook with saran wrap in the microwave, avoid direct contact of the wrap with the food. Do not use cold storage containers or foam insulated containers in the microwave either.

The Real Danger: Getting second hand natural health information off the internet

As you can see, there are some legitimate microwave oven safety issues to be aware of, but they’re no different than basic cooking safety with any kind of conventional oven, stovetop, grill or fire.

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that nearly all of the “gloom and doom” stuff is uncritical, propagandist pseudoscience coming from the “alternative health,” “natural health” or “raw foods” movements (by the way, some nutrients become more bio-available when cooked).

Some of the people and organizations who spread this misinformation are honest and sincerely believe in what they’re saying. But as physicist Robert Park wrote in Voodoo Science, “what may begin as honest error has a way of evolving through almost imperceptible steps from self-delusion to fraud.” True to that point, some are using scare tactics as tools for marketing or furthering their agendas.

Other people are just “out there.” I swear some of them are conspiracy theory, tin foil hat and little green men types.

And this months Tin foil hat award goes to…

I’ve had some of these natural health alarmists tell me that there’s no research proving microwaves are safe and we have no way of knowing they won’t cause cancer in the long term.  Well no kidding you can’t prove a negative, but that line of argument alone shows the fallacy in their way of thinking.  Enormous amounts of research have been done for decades on microwaves and any physicist or food scientist can explain to you how they work to safely cook your food (a couple of them do just that, below).

To many of these internet kooks, “research” means quoting other natural health websites, which in turn, quote other natural health sites and regurgitate urban legends. Even authorities with real credentials like M.D. are fallible and not above reproach.

What about me? Why did I write this lonnnnnng article on microwaves? Do I have some kind of agenda of my own?

I’m a bodybuilder, but I’m not just interested in muscle mass and ripped abs. Health is my top priority.  If microwave ovens caused health problems, I’m the first person to want to know about it because I use the microwave a lot.  I use it to heat coffee or tea, to thaw meats, to cook my oatmeal every morning and for cooking potatoes and yams (I do prefer those baked, but the microwave is faster).  I also cook my veggies in the microwave and reheat pre-cooked meals.

I estimate that I use a microwave at least three to five times a day and I’ve done that almost every day for the last 25 years. Based on my use, if microwaves were harmful, I figure I’d be a prime example of someone who should have health problems. I don’t. My health is perfect. I have not been to a doctor for illness or injury in 22 years and I continue to set personal records in the gym today at age 42.

I have no pro-microwave agenda and in fact, I’m interested in a natural approach to health and bodybuilding – it’s real food and drug-free for me – natural for life and not a prescription to be found in my medicine cabinet. ..

I’m simply sick of poorly-researched, non-vetted misinformation about health and fitness, and a few myths promoted by alternative natural health publishers have always pushed my buttons and irritated me to the brink of insanity. The microwave myth is one of them.

Just to be fair, let me say that I agree it’s intelligent and prudent to question what we eat, how what we eat is processed and even how what we eat is cooked. However, we must question critically and look at real evidence before jumping to conclusions and spreading panic around the net. Stop and think first, before you click the “forward” or “share” buttons.

But hey, I’m a “muscle-head,” not a biochemist, a physicist or a food scientist, so don’t listen to me if you don’t want to. Fact check my article and look up all the references for yourself… AND let me close with some feedback from a couple of people who ARE food scientists.

Conclusions from food scientists

Elissa Lowe is a blogger for ultimate fat burner dot com and shes a senior moderator at Will Brink’s bodybuilding and fat loss forums. She also has a science background with degrees in food technology and she’s one of the sharpest ladies in this field, not to mention one of the fittest (she can kick ass in a gym OR in a debate). I asked her if microwaved foods were safe and here’s what she told me:

“Are microwaved foods safe? If your only source of information is the internet, I wouldn’t blame you for having some doubts! There are a lot of scary stories floating around in cyberspace. For example, on one popular web site, I learned that microwave ovens “…threaten your health by violently ripping the molecules in your food apart.”

Say, what?! As someone who’s studied a LOT of chemistry and biochemistry, I have NO idea what that even means. Scientifically, it’s nonsense.

But that’s the point: statements like this are designed to frighten… not enlighten. I’ve looked into several references cited as “proof” of the “dangers” of microwave ovens (such as the alleged “toxicity” of microwaved blood; the destruction of bioactive compounds in breast milk, the Swiss “clinical study,” etc.), and, in each case, I’ve discovered that reality has seriously been distorted to support a preconceived, “denialist” position.

What can I say? There are a lot of paranoid people out there… not to mention those who are all-too-willing to stoke paranoia for profit. As this well-known parody on the dangers of “dihydrogen monoxide” demonstrates, anything can be made to sound sinister: www.dhmo.org/

So what’s the truth? Food scientists have researched the effects of microwave cooking to the nth degree. “Big Food” isn’t overly concerned about your health, but it is concerned (obsessed, really) with creating completely uniform consumer products. Thus, every aspect of production and routine consumer handling is understood… in mind-numbing detail. Sure, papers like “Physicochemical Changes in Dietary Fiber of Green Beans after Repeated Microwave Treatments,” or “Mutagen Formation in Beefburgers Processed by Frying or Microwave with use of Flavoring and Browning Agents” are duller than dirt. Nonetheless, they’re part of a looooong, detailed and – most importantly – scientifically legitimate “paper trail” on the effects of microwave cooking.

Reading these unexciting papers leads to an equally unexciting conclusion: there’s nada that happens to food cooked in a microwave that doesn’t also happen with other forms of cooking. Where differences (positive or negative) exist, they’re in the degree; not the type. Scientists have searched for “athermal” or “non-thermal” reaction products that might be harmful to human health, but nothing unusual has been found. Research in model, non-food systems suggests there may be alterations in the rates of certain reactions (such as protein unfolding) which can’t be explained solely in terms of thermal effects, but that’s about it. No “unique radiolytic compounds” – let alone toxic ones – have been discovered.”

I also contacted Ashim Datta, a professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University. He’s the author of numerous research papers, book chapters and books, including the Handbook of Microwave Technology for Food Applications. I asked Dr. Datta the same question and here was his reply:

“Based on my knowledge of the last 30-35 years of research literature on microwave heating, microwaves have only thermal effect, i.e., increase in temperature. There is no other “microwave” effect. Because microwaves heat non-uniformly, some places can heat a lot more and get charred and produce undesirable compounds. This, however, is just as true with any heating process, including hot air or grill. For the same reason of non-uniform heating, some locations in the food can heat a lot less and thus not destroy enough of pathogenic microorganisms (when this is an issue), causing a food safety problem, in much the same way as in conventional heating. Absolutely no negative health effects of microwave heating have been shown conclusively in all these years since microwave heating was started in the 50s.”

Can we finally close the case now on all the microwave oven alarmism and move on, or do we have to give away even more tin foil hat awards and start dispensing baloney detection kits?

References

Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking Journal of The Science Of Food And Agriculture, F Vallejo, at al, Laboratorio de Fitoquimica, Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Murcia, Spain

The effects of microwaves on the nutrient value of foods, Cross, GA and Fung, D., Critical Reviews in Food Science And Nutrition, Vol 16, No 4, pp 355-419, 1982, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University

The effect of cooking methods on total phenolics and antioxidant activity of selected green vegetables, Turkman N et al, Food Chemistry 93(4), pp 713-718, 2005, Department of Food Engineering, Ankara University, Turkey.

Retention of nutrients in microwave-cooked foods, Klein BP. Bol Asoc Med P R., 1989 Jul;81(7):277-9.

Effects of Microwave Heating on the Loss of Vitamin B(12) in Foods, Wtanabe, F, et al, J Agric Food Chem. 1998 Jan 19;46(1):206-210, 1998, Department of Applied Biological Chemistry, Osaka Prefecture University, Japan.

Effects of microwave cooking conditions on bioactive compounds present in broccoli inflorescences, Lopez-berenguer C et al, J Agric food Chem, 55(24) pp 10001- 10007, 2007.

Comparative sub-chronic (13-wk) toxicity study in rats, Jonker, D., Food Chem Toxicol, 1995 Apr;33(4):245-56, TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands.

Comparative study of the nutritive value of casein heated by microwave and conventionally, Jonker D, Jour Sci Food Agric, vol 59, pp 123-126, 1992.

Chronic, low-level (1.0 W/kg) exposure of mice prone to mammary cancer to 2450 MHz microwaves. Frei MR et al. Radiation research 150 (5): 568-76. doi:10.2307/3579874. 1998

Chronic exposure of cancer-prone mice to low-level 2450 MHz radiofrequency radiation. Frei, MR; et al.Bioelectromagnetics 19 (1): 20- 31. 1998

Survival of Listeria on raw whole chickens cooked in microwave ovens., Farber JM, D’Aoust JY, Diotte M, Sewell A, Daley E. J Food Prot. 1998 Nov;61(11):1465-9. Microbiology Research Division,  Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Survival of Salmonella species in eggs poached using a microwave oven, Bates CJ, Spencer RC. J Hosp Infect. 1995 Feb;29(2):121-7.Department of Bacteriology, Floor F, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK.

The effect of short-time microwave exposures on Escherichia coli O157:H7 inoculated onto chicken meat portions and whole chickens. Int J Food Microbiol. 2005 May 1;101(1):105-10. Epub 2004 Dec 25.Apostolou I, et al. Food Microbiology Unit, Medical School, University of Ioannina, Greece.

Effect of microwave heating on the migration of dioctyladipate and acetyltributylcitrate plasticizers from food-grade PVC and PVDC/PVC films into olive oil and water , Z Lebensm Unters Forsch. 1996 Apr;202(4):313-7. Dept of Chemistry, University of Ioannina, Greece.

Effect of microwave heating on the migration of dioctyl adipate and acetyltributyl citrate plasticizers from food grade PVC and PVDC/PVC films into ground meat, Badeka, European food research and technology, vol 208, no. 1, pp 69-73

Potential migration release of volatile compounds from plastic containers destined for food use in microwave ovens, Nerin, C., et al, Food Addit Contam, bol 19, no. 6, pp 594-601, 2002. Universidad de Zarogazo, Madrid, Spain.

Burns associated with the use of microwave ovens, Budd R., J Microw Power Electromagn Energy. 1992;27(3):160-3, Radiation Biology Branch, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD.

Corneal injury from explosion of microwaved eggs. Yoo RT, Rivera PM, Campbell JP, Butrus SI.Am J Ophthalmol. 1998 Mar;125(3):390-2. Washington National Eye Center, Washington Hospital Center, DC, USA

Severe burns resulting from an exploding teat on a bottle of infant formula milk heated in a microwave oven. Dixon JJ, et al, Burns. 1997 May;23(3):268-9. Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK.

Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk, Quan R, et al, Pediatrics. 1992 Apr;89(4 Pt 1):667-9.Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA.

Electromagnetic radiation from microwave ovens. Alhekail ZO. EE Dept., J Radiol Prot. 2001 Sep;21(3):251-8. King Suad University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Comparison of the effects of microwave cooking and conventional cooking methods on the composition of fatty acids and fat quality indicators in herring. Regulska-llow B, Ilow R.1: Nahrung. 2002 Dec;46(6):383-8. Wroclaw Medical University, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Wroclaw, Poland.

Heterocyclic amines: Mutagens/carcinogens produced during cooking of meat and fish. Sugimura T, et al, Cancer Sci. 2004 Apr;95(4):290-9. National Cancer Center, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan.

Physiochemical changes in dietary fiber of green beans after repeated microwave treatments, Svanberg M et al, Food Science, 62:5, pp 1006-1010, 1997.

The effect of microwave heating on vitamins B1 and E, and linoleic and linolenic acids, and immunoglobulins in human milk., Ovesen, Int J Food Sci Nutr, Vol 47, No. 5, pp 427-436, 1996

Dissecting an Internet hoax: water, food, plastics, and microwaves, Pike-Paris Ann, Pediatric Nursing, 31(6):503-7, 2005.

Recommended reads:

The worlds most detailed Microwave FAQ by physicist Lou Bloomfield, author of How Things Work

Superheating and microwave ovens: University of Sydney, School of Physics

USDA report on Microwave ovens and food safety

FDA’s microwave oven radiation page

Microwave Myths by the Center For Science In The Public Interest (CSPI)

Skeptoid picks apart the “10 reasons to throw out your microwave” chain e-mail

Heterocylic Amines in Cooked Meats – National Cancer Institute, reprinted by University of Bonn

Video

History of the microwave (Raytheon, Percy Spencer, the melted chocolate bar and the radar range)

 

MYTHBUSTERS: superheated exploding water

 

Is it a good idea to microwave this?

(note: in episode 297 these misfits microwave a shake weight: WARNING: foul language and extremely lewd and immature behavior)

  • Facebook Share

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE FAT LOSS REPORTS!

Big Fat Lies! A Shocking Expose of the 12 Biggest Scams, Cover-ups, Lies, Myths and Deceptions in the Diet, Supplement and Weight Loss Industries!

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

If you’d like a picture to show up by your name, get a Gravatar.

51 Responses to “Debunking An Internet Hoax: What Science Really Says About Microwave Ovens, Your Food And Your Health”

  • Grumpypumpkin

    Well, if you could climb into a microwave, shut the door and cook yourself on full power for, say, 20 minutes, you’d probably end up with an irreversible case of death. Maybe if a microwave fell out of a tree and landed on your head, that could finish you off. The only way I can think of dying by microwaved broccoli would be choking. So don’t try to inhale your veggies and you’ll be just fine!

  • Michael Weinstein

    I am curious that you recommend a website in your blog post above (Ultimate Fat Burner Dot Com) that happens to recommend BFFM. Yet, this website recommends products to aid in fat burning which A) seems distinctly against your philosophy and B) one of those products Novadex is subject to a FDA recall.

    • Tom Venuto

      Michael, my post does not “recommend” any website. A link to a website does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation. Nor does my post recommend or endorse any supplement. I will however, gladly vouch for elissa as a reliable science expert.

    • Michael:

      At ultimatefatburner.com, we do not advise people specifically to take fat burning supplements… or any supplements. Our goal is to help people who intend to take supplements make informed choices, by evaluating the science behind the claims and analyzing various advertising tactics (ranging from the persuasive to outright scams).

      Our philosophy can be summed up as: if you’re gonna take supps, do it on the basis of knowledge and don’t get rolled by claims or exaggerated promises of what a supp can do for you. Our product recommendations represent the best of the products that we’ve reviewed. This is a relative, rather than an absolute, judgement.

      I’m not sure what your point is about Novedex, but the FDA warning (not recall) had nada to do with any known adverse reactions experienced with recommended product use. Rather, the FDA advised Gaspari that the primary ingredient, ATD, “does not meet the definition of a dietary ingredient” (see: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm228749.htm ). Certainly this was a fair call under the existing rules, but that doesn’t make Novedex a “bad” product; nor does it mean that we’re somehow unreliable or “tainted” because it made the “recommended” cut. As noted above, a recommendation does not mean “must have” – it means, “if you’re looking for a T-boosting supp, this one has scientific backing, appears to be safe for short-term use, and makes no inflated promises about what it will/won’t do for you.”

      Thanks for the reminder, though… now that Novedex is officially off the market, the list needs to be updated.

  • Jim

    Tom,

    I hate to admit that over the last few months I’ve read some articles on the Internet that had me seriously questioning my use of my microwave.

    After reading your article, I now see that the articles had no real science backing up their anti-microwave stance, and I can happily continue using my microwave.

  • Jim Shelton

    Great stuff Tom and much needed! I have an autoimmune condition that has manifested itself in pituitary failure, hypothyroidism, celiac along with episodic chronic fatigue.

    I am frequently confronted by well-meaning friends who insist that something like my microwave is at the heart of my health issues. I’m constantly on the defensive against being pressured to submit to the junk-science and unproven alternative therapies.

    Jim

  • The only myth I gave credence was the tearing the molecules in unnatural ways. I am glad some research was done that demonstrated that the changes are comparable to other heating methods. Gives me more confidence to zap my hardtack pizzas; they heat more evenly than in conventional oven, broiler or convection oven Though the convection oven is close.

  • Patricia Napolitano

    Thanks for letting me feel OK about using the microwave again. Actually it was Dr. Mercola’s recent article that scared me off. Unfortunately, now that I feel OK about the microwave I do not feel so OK about Dr. Mercola and I had been thinking of buying new cookware according to his recommendations. Dr. M. is against pots and pans with non-stick coatings such as teflon. He is selling ceramic cookware. I had picked Mercola’s ceramic over Dr. Susan Lark’s lightweight cast iron and over more upscale HealthCraft and Swiss Diamond cookware. I think it is a logical error to assume that one inaccuracy means everything the man says is wrong, and I do need new cookware. Do you have any thoughts on the subject?

    • Tom Venuto

      Patricia, I don’t know much about cookware purchasing suggestions… but maybe another reader can offer a suggestion on a type / brand.

    • grumpypumpkin

      Patricia, the only thing I’ve heard about non-stick cookware that I consider to be good advice is: stop using it if the coating is peeling off. Who wants to be picking that stuff out from between their teeth?!

    • Daniel Linz

      Patricia, I would suggest you look at Saladmaster cookware. There too many benefits to list on this post, but if you are looking to get more nutrition out of your food in about half the time, its worth a look.

      • Lorraine

        Saladmaster waterless cookware is undoubtedly good but is obscenely overpriced. $10,000 for a full set? Um, no thanks.

        Good stainless steel cookware (fully clad – if you can afford it – or partially clad w/ aluminum core for even heating) and properly seasoned cast iron ware (like Lodge) are decent choices.

    • karina cerda (no longer mendoza!)

      “ROSINNI OVENWARE”(:*NOTE:IT’S JUST MY SUGGESTION!

  • karina cerda (no longer mendoza!)

    I most certainly think microwave use is both safe and “CONVENTIONAL”!(:*MY ONLY “TIP” TO EVERYONE IS SIMPLY THIS….:”DO NOT” USE “FOIL” !!!! IN THE “MICROWAVE”!!!”SERIOUSLY”….UNLESS LIKE MR.42 SAID….MANY CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE!SO WHILE WE ARE AT IT ! (: DOES ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW IF THE MOST RECENT MICROWAVES ALLOW YOU TO USE “FOIL”?BECAUSE THE LAST TIME I TRIED THIS!!!!*IT DID NOT GO SO WELL!!!!!(:

  • Tom Venuto

    naturally! no metal in the microwave… unless you like fires… see last video in blog “is it a good idea to microwave this” to watch nearly 300 items including metal get microwaved and see for yourself! LOL

    • Henry

      My dad actually heats up his cup of coffee with a metal (silver) spoon in the microwave… no sparks or fire (also to my surprise!). What’s up with that?

  • grumpypumpkin

    My microwave has a metal turntable. This demands further investigation…

  • Patrick McHenry

    Hi Tom,

    Great article. I too have recently seen well-meaning criticism of microwave cooking from sources that I thought were reputable.

    A correction: in your section titled, “Microwave ovens, radiation and the cancer scare,” there is one statement that is not factually correct:

    “But when we talk about microwave ‘radiation’ we are simply talking about production of thermal energy, aka, heat.”

    For reference, I am an engineer who has worked on radar systems – and here is a link to a good NASA introductory article on the electromagnetic spectrum:

    http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/science/know_l1/emspectrum.html

    Microwaves are exactly like radio waves, infrared waves, visible light and, yes, even x-rays and gamma radiation – in the sense that they are all electromagnetic radiation. The microwaves themselves are not thermal energy, but rather interact with the food to produce thermal energy. That distinction is alluded to later in the article, but your statement early-on creates a stronger misleading impression, IMO.

    What differentiates all of these phenomena is the frequency (or inversely the wavelength) of the radiation. Microwave ovens are called that because the wavelength of the radiation that they use to heat the food is most conveniently expressed in units of micrometers. That makes them high-frequency radio waves – but low-frequency by comparison to x-ray or gamma radiation.

    That difference makes all of the difference necessary to support your conclusions though, given that all of the studies you cite find no evidence for any significant direct effect of the microwave radiation other than heating of the food.

    • Tom Venuto

      Hi Patrick. Thanks for your post!and thanks for the correction. I understand the distinction, just didnt articulate it properly.

  • Jon

    How microwaves work
    water, oil,
    metal in the microwave,
    microwaving eggs.

    All electromagnetic waves, visible light and microwaves, have an electric part and a magnetic part. The energy in each part varies like a sine wave: the two parts maintain each other by sending energy back and forth, until the wave gets absorbed.

    Water

    The water molecule is bent like a ‘V’, with the big oxygen atom in the middle and the hydrogen atoms sticking out to one ‘side’. The arrangement of the electrons is both what makes the molecule bent and what makes the molecule electrically polar: more negatively charged on one ‘pole’ (the oxygen side) and more positive on the other (the side with the hydrogen atoms).

    The electrical part of the microwave wave drives the electrically polar water molecules to ‘wave’ with it, raising their temperatures and consequently heating the food. A moist or wet food surface will absorb better than a dry surface, so less of the microwave energy can pass–the water tends to shield the part of the food behind it from microwaves, yet heat it by conduction. Microwaves can penetrate deeper past drier material. Energy that does not get absorbed will bounces back and forth between the microwave oven’s walls (at the speed of light) until it is absorbed, but if there isn’t anything to absorb the energy, the energy buildup can damage the microwave source.

    Oil

    Pure oils and fats are non-polar, so they should not absorb microwave energy directly. This means it would be harder to melt butter or chocolate in a microwave. One might borrow the double-boiler idea from stovetop cooking and use water to heat the fat indirectly (with glass dishes). Also, it may be helpful sometimes to include a small dish of water in the microwave, particularly if there is little water in the food.

    A microwave oven is essentially microwave ‘lightbulb’ connected to a metal box. The metal is a good conductor of electricity and reflects the electrical part of the wave. (Metals are shiny because they reflect the electrical part of visible light waves.) The microwaves reflect around inside the box much like visible light from the light bulb does. Microwave ovens that have a window also have a conductor on the window, often it is a conductive screen with small holes. The holes allow visible light through but not the much longer wavelengths of microwaves. (A microwave wavelength is about a centimeter long and it is about 10,000 times bigger than a visible light wavelength.)

    Metal

    It is generally good to avoid using metal items in the microwave. The electrical sine wave tries to force electrons to wiggle with it. If the electrons are in a metal conductor, they will move easily. If the conductor is a complete circuit, like a ring, the electrons will move around the ring and back easily. If there is a gap, or if two pieces of metal are close enough, electrons will try to jump the gap. Incidentally, radio waves move electrons in a TV or radio antenna this way, but the electrons are directed through wires to a tuner.

    Metal filigree decoration on a dish most likely will act like an antenna and cause sparking where the conductive lines get close to each other. This would damage the filigree and possibly spot-overheat and crack the dish. However, leaving a straight-handled spoon in or beside a (microwave safe) bowl of soup will probably not lead to sparks in a microwave oven unless the end of the spoon gets too close to one of the conductive walls. A metal mixing bowl (with no other metal) may not cause sparks, but the curved surface may focus the microwaves into hot spots–there is at least one model of microwave corn-popping container (Presto 4830 Power Pop) that includes a metal part in its base to do just that.

    Eggs

    Corn pops when the steam inside builds enough pressure to rupture the outer membrane. Eggs will do the same, so it is a good idea to break the yolk and remove the umbilicus parts before scrambling them and cooking them in the microwave. I find 90 seconds to be just about the right amount of time in a microwave oven rated at 1100W for three egg whites and one yolk. Sometimes it takes a little more time, and sometimes there is a small pop that throws a little bit of egg out of the dish. (It is a good idea to watch the oven, especially when trying out new recipes.) The humidity in the air and other moisture in the microwave from previous usage may affect the cooking time.

  • D Bro

    I was surprised you quoted the FDA concerning leaking possibility. They may be right about the leaking, but how many other times have the FDA got it wrong and caused people to die? It is truly unfortunate that this government agency does not properly promote good health. Good aticle that gets me rethinking about microwave use. Even though you disagreed with Dr Mercola, I think you and he would agree a WHOLE lot on most health issues.

    • Tom Venuto

      The FDA is the agency that regulates the leakage so it makes perfect sense to quote them in this discussion; also failures in other areas notwithstanding, they are correct that leakage is not a problem in properly functioning new units and this fact has been and can be confirmed not only by totally independent engineers but also easily confirmed by YOURSELF with a leakage meter. What the FDA may be wrong about in other areas has no bearing on the present discussion and id be cautious of using an “FDA is causing deaths” argument which is not relevant here and just stick to the facts, lest one ends up going down the conspiracy theory road that so many of the alternative/ natural health people do. As for what I agree with on health issues, All I can say is that in terms of government, Id prefer a small government that stays out of our business and doesn’t tell us what foods we can or cant eat or what supplements we can or cant take… and in terms of health care system and alternative/natural health experts, I believe that we have the best medical care and medical professionals and medical technology in the world for emergency and trauma care and surgery. Our doctors truly amaze me and im grateful for them every time I see them take care of friends and loved ones. But the system is broken when it comes to health. We have to take personal responsibility for our own health via nutrition ,exercise and lifestyle and get away from the “a prescription for every ill” mentality… I believe in the natural approach and I do share that with the alternative – natural health community… on the other hand, the alt-nat health community is responsible for perpetuating as much if not more quackery and fraud than any other group in their attempt to pursue this path. buyer beware; there is as much profit motive in the alt-natural health industry as there is in the pharmaceutical industry. Case in point: falsely SCARE people into throwing out their microwaves and buying a so – called “safer” oven.

    • In my 7+ years as an advisor at Will Brink’s Bodybuilding Revealed and Fat Loss Revealed, I’ve fielded a fair number of questions about Dr. Mercola. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that my opinion of him is mixed, at best.

      Suffice it to say, that – if you were a couch potato eating a typical American diet – you would certainly benefit from following his advice. But the fact that he offers some good advice doesn’t mean that all of his advice is good. He’s far from objective: he routinely cherry picks data and uses “loaded” terms to spin information to fit his ideology. In addition, he deliberately sows paranoia and provides a platform to quacks promoting a range of dubious treatments.

      For the record, “promoting good health” is not the FDA’s mission. Rather, its to “protect public health” (see: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194877.htm ), which is not the same thing. The agency’s function is to set and enforce standards for safety and efficacy for foods/drugs/medical devices/cosmetics. While it cannot be denied that the FDA has fallen down on various aspects of its mission in the past, it still performs many valuable functions. Since my training is in food science/technology, I know quite a bit about what life was like before there was an FDA… suffice it to say, for all its faults, the FDA does yeoman duty. While I’m sure Dr. Mercola doesn’t like FDA scrutiny (he’s received his share of warning letters), overall, we’re the better for it.

      • karina cerda (no longer mendoza!)

        I AM GLAD YOU MENTION THE “FDA”.MANY PEOPLE ARE OUT THERE ASSUME THAT JUST BECAUSE A DRUG LABEL HAS “PRINT” THAT READS “FDA APPROVED”…THAT THE DRUG MUST INDEED BE “SAFE”. TO THE BEST OF MY UNDERSTANDING ,THERE IS A BIG FDIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOMETHINGBEING “APPROVED” AND SOMETHING BEING “SAFE”.SOME LABELS MIGHT EVEN HAVE AN FDA PRINTING CLAIMING THE DRUG TO BE “SAFE AND EFFECTIVE” YET WILL FAIL TO MENTION THE THAT MULTIPLE REACTIONS TO THAT DRUG CAN BE ANTICIPATED … BOTTOM LINE IS THAT I BELIEVE THE FDA HAS TO DO A BETTER JOB AT PROTECTING US!*IF THEY WERE DOING A GOOD JOB AT IT ALREADY…THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR ALL THESE CONSTANT “RECALLS” (:GOD BLESS YOU1!

  • Bill

    It’s ironic that so much energy is devoted to this junk science, meanwhile well over half the U.S. population is badly overweight from fast food pollution.

    If we all decided to microwave something (anything?) fresh instead of grabbing a cheeseburger and fries form the drive-thru, half of our health problems would go away.

    Thanks for the newsletter Tom.

  • JOHN

    I still wouldnt recommend using them for overall health reasons. There was a practical study done with me and a mate in which we bought 2 health yplants. 1 we fed heated gas stove top rain water to, the other heated up microwave water too. Now if nothing bad happens and especially water (using the it’s safe logic) why did the plant die after 3 days… you tell me 🙂
    JOHN

    • Tom Venuto

      The “water the plant” experiment is right from the playbook of tin foil hat central. Thank you for your anecdote (n=1). Ive read about people who did the experiment and the plant lived. See if you can get that experiment duplicated under controlled conditions by scientists then get back to me…

    • karina cerda (no longer mendoza!)

      (: THE PLANT DIED BECAUSE YOU DID NOT TALK TO IT!

  • Chuck S

    About 1960 I read that military personnel in Alaska would stand in front of the big radars to warm up in the winter. I read that it would have the most harmful effect on eyes and, I think, sperm production.

  • Erin

    I’ll still be using the toaster oven. Regardless of your attempt to debunk microwave usage here I feel there’s still enough data to count them as questionable. Perhaps anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean much to you but I think to bypass it because there are no scientific studies to corroborate yet is unfortunate.

    I do know that microwave heat cooks food differently than say stove-top cooking by heating the food molecules from within, rather than from without, causing them to burst/explode. That doesn’t sound good to me. Yes, other methods break down the cell of food as well & that is part of the cooking process, as you pointed out, but it is a gradual breaking down, not a violent explosion. There is a difference. And I think most are aware that not all cooking methods are as healthy as the next. For example baking is more healthful than grilling, as grilling can produce harmful carcinogens. The way you choose to cook food does affect the healthfulness of the end product. Whether this fact is important or not is up to each individual to decide.

    All in all I believe there is evidence that they aren’t the safest, nor the most efficient, nor the healthiest way to be cooking. This article doesn’t sway me at all. The cooking process of microwaves is questionable, so why not just use a toaster oven, they’re nearly as quick and with no controversy to be concerned over they seem like the logical, more sensible choice.

  • Tom Venuto

    erin: A) every one of your concerns was discussed in my article… the food molecules burst/ explode? A “violent explosion”? Are you serious? did you read ANYTHING I wrote? carcinogens? did you READ the article at all!? Both of these issues were covered. What “data” are you talking about that leaves microwaving as questionable? Please cite it. What “evidence” are you talking about that microwaves are unsafe or unhealthy, that I missed? Please give me a reference. what “controversy” is left other than the imaginary ones that the quacks and conspiracy theorists created… which we’ve completely debunked? B) youre a fascinating example of the way many people are going to keep on believing whatever they want to believe no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary…

  • Rob white

    Hi Tom,

    i love your website and follow it regularly. You are one of the good guys trying to keep a level head on everyone.

    One study that disturbed me a while back regarding microwave cooking was this one:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/0yblxvnrnhmd8p4e/

    I was unable to access the full paper, but the abstract stated:

    “Significantly higher amounts of polar compounds, of triglyceride oligopolymers – known to have adverse effects on human health – and of oxidised triglycerides were found in microwaved than in conventionally heated oils, indicating a higher extent of oxidative degradation.”

    Since reading that, i have avoided microwave cooking anything with more than a marginal fat content.

    Also, purely from an anecdotal perspective, i get a ‘wierd’ buzzy / tight sensation in my head when standing near a microwave in operation – similar to when i use a mobile phone for more than a few minutes.

    • Tom Venuto

      Thanks for your post. I dont have access to that paper either, so cant comment on it. I did read and cite studies that showed no adverse effects of microwaving on dietary fat, one of which said, “Overall, the nutritional effects of microwaves on protein, lipid, and minerals appear minimal,” and another which checked the effect on fish fat. however, not all oils hold up well under any type of high heat, and EFAs are definitely heat sensitive. But Ive never heard of any ‘microwave effect’ that is any different from conventional heating effects.

  • Hari

    Hi Tom
    Nice article. While we are on the subject….does using unsaturated oils while cooking (not deep frying) produces trans fats? not in microwave in particular but in general like when you are making an egg white omlete

  • Kel

    Thanks for a great blog post! The microwave is your friend for steam veggies and for making large healthy dishes that you can eat for 2-3 meals..nothing to be scared of!

  • […] Burn The Fat Blog – Tom Venuto. This entry was posted in Fat Burning and tagged body fat, exercise, fat burning. Bookmark the […]

  • This sort of information should be more widely published. From my research into the literature it would appear that food value degredation whether microwave or boiling water, it is the way it is cooked or over cooked! I mean food immersed in boiling water will tend to remove all the soluable goodies so the water becomes nutritious! At least in a microwave this can’t happen. I found that the only vegetables where they thought might be effected were the crucifers, i.e. Broccoli, but again this was if things were overcooked.

  • […] more Debunking An Internet Hoax: What Science Really Says About Microwave Ovens, Your Food And Your Healt…. Tykkää tästä:TykkääOle ensimmäinen, joka tykkää tästä . from → Mediakritiikkiä, […]

  • Many people are concerned with being exposed to a microwave oven’s radiation. There are studies on the effects of microwave cooking that show both positive and negative effects on food, just as there are current studies on the dangerous effects of radiation from cell phones.

    • Tom Venuto

      would love to see links to some of the peer-reviewed studies youre referring to regarding negative effects of microwave ovens on food, which weren’t already discussed in the article. Thanks!

  • Jessica Diamond

    Wow… I’m impressed. A guy who obviously has taken anabolic steroids is saying a certified doctor deserves a tin foil hat. Go back and check your real facts. Science proves by disproving. You can’t prove anything because proof requires acceptance of pre-existing things to be proved which further need to be substantiated by something else that had to be proved, which eventually leads to something not being provable which makes everything based on something that couldn’t be proven. Disproving however can work because we can disprove something. I can disprove that apples fall up, simply by holding and apple and when it fails to fall up I have disproved that it falls up. You can’t actually prove it falling, because something else could instead be forcing it down that we can’t yet identify and therefore can’t disprove. History is filled with facts that were facts until they were disproved. The classics being that the Earth was flat, that it was the Center of the Universe, and that the Sun, Stars, and other planets revolved around the Earth. All have been disproved since then, so facts ceased to be facts, and any science that had been ‘Proven’ based on those facts would no longer be valid.

    So, lets go back, can you disprove the claims? I can disprove that microwaves are safe. I simply put anything in one, poof, disproven. Can you disprove they’re unsafe? Hmmm, no. I see a video with a Doctor in it which you’re calling a tin foil hat wearer, which seems to speak to me that you care nothing about people who have specialized in chemistry, medicine, or other sciences, and have done decades of research in the fields as well as mention they’re quoting a small portion of the more prominent research in the area.

    • Tom Venuto

      Jessica diamond:

      1. I have never taken anabolic steroids or any other illegal performance enhancing drugs in my entire life. You obviously have no clue about natural bodybuilding and the drug tests we take when we compete in them. You also have no clue about me. My entire 25 year fitness career has been wholly dedicated to natural – steroid free, drug free bodybuilding. So thank you for paying me the BIGGEST compliment a drug-free bodybuilder could ever hear.

      2. some bloggers wouldnt even approve a comment like yours. But yours is such an incoherent rambling of nonsense that im pleased to leave it up for the world to see, because any critical thinker who knows anything about science can see now how youve discredited yourself not only by making false accusations of drug use, but also with your idiotic rant. Look up “logical fallacies” and “burden of proof”. Post more if you like because every additional word you write will surely uncover even more of the depth of your ignorance.

  • This is a great article Tom! i’ve always thought microwaves were safe – but now and then the old “myths” creep back into my mind about “nuking”. That’s mostly due to not having access to valid research showing that they are indeed safe.

    Well this article put my mind at ease. I’m going to go “nuke” my nightly bag of Steamfresh veggies now! lol.

    Jay

  • Amar

    There are so many of these unscientific myths float around including those for cell phone towers.
    UV rays from the sun are ionizing radiation. If we can withstand sunshine microwaves are more than pass.
    As I was recently told by a wise man, “It is no use getting into discussions with idiots. They will bring you down to their level and then beat you with experience”

  • annefleming

    Great article. All these unnecessary myths keep floating around because people don’t research much and blindly believe what other people tell them. I had an aunt who is a health freak she bought an oven from best brands some years back and haven’t used it much since because she said that she read an article saying that using microwave oven can give you cancer.

  • Wilkenator

    Too long of an article. There is research for and against microwaves. Just pick whoever you want to believe. Everyone’s got some study apparently. Sometimes it’s better safe than sorry. Just because you don’t have health issues now, doesn’t mean you won’t ever and it also doesn’t mean it was the microwave’s fault. I’ve read a lot and don’t ever believe anything I read unless it works for me. I’ve gotten rid of my microwave and learned to live without it. Sure it takes a little longer for my food to be re-heated and I don’t necessarily feel healthier, but you don’t feel colon cancer growing in your colon do you? Not having a microwave keeps me sharp by having to plan and coordinate meals. It’s a personal choice and like cable t.v., once you get rid of it, you don’t miss it.

    • Tom Venuto

      “there is research for and against microwaves.” Yes this is correct. I have reviewed it all right here and the evidence against is minimal or of little concern outside safety issues that are no different than conventional ovens and cooking. The weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly indicating that microwave ovens are safe. Yes, I see that you wish to believe in whatever you want to believe (despite the science) and that is indeed your and anyone else’s prerogative. For those who care about evidence, proof and science rather than blind belief, they can trust that they will continue to get that from this site. Others can simply stop reading this web site. My very best to you. Tom.

  • Rachael

    Non of your references are later than 2007 and most are from the 80s and 90s!!! I think you should review the new science and update.

    • Tom Venuto

      Hi. show me, specifically, the “new science” you are referring to, such as a link to the abstract in the pub med data base or the actual peer reviewed journal website and of course I will be happy to review; and if necessary, update information, which I often do for older blog posts (This site has been online since 2004). But I doubt the conclusions on this particular topic will change. Also, while science usually continues to expand the body of evidence and sometimes changes conclusions, appeal to novelty (or its converse, that older research is always wrong or outdated), is a logical fallacy. Thank you.

If you’d like a picture to show up by your name, get a Gravatar.