Discussing the Effects of Microwave Oven Radiation

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/15/2014

Discussing the Effects of Microwave Oven Radiation

Every once in a while I get asked about microwave ovens and whether they’re good or bad. My short answer, microwave ovens are bad news. I shun them because of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) they emit. 
 
The FDA has regulated the manufacture of microwave ovens since 1971 and says they’re safe to use. A federal standard limits the amount of microwave energy that can leak out of amicrowave oven and the FDA says the limit is far below the level known to be harmful and that your level of exposure to microwave energy drops dramatically as you move away from the oven. That hasn't been my experience.

On numerous occasions over the years, I’ve checked other people’s microwave ovens for leaks by using an inexpensive, handheld radiation meter. I get the same result every time: The meter goes wild. That's why no matter what the FDA says, it’s impossible for me to watch the meter and believe we're safe.

Microwave Ovens Create ‘Dead Liquid’

Informal experiments have shown that if you take two plants of the same age and species and, over a 7- to 10-day period, feed stove-boiled (and then cooled) water to one plant and microwaved (and then cooled) water to the other plant, the plant getting the microwaved water will die. To me, that’s not a good recommendation for using a microwave oven.

Microwave Oven Studies Aren’t Promising

Microwave ovens are shown to:

  • Break down vitamin B12 into inactive substances.
  • Release potentially toxic compounds from food packaging. 
  • Result in a loss of antioxidant compounds in vegetables and nutritional value in protein. 
  • Create a high number of radiolytic compounds during the cooking process (these compounds are unnatural substances we know little about).

From all I’ve read, little is known about what possible effects may result from “officially” low levels of microwave exposure. I also know of no long-term studies that have been done because of the difficulty in simulating the conditions under which consumers use microwave ovens.

People have had alleged radiation injury from microwave ovens over the years, but the only injuries acknowledged by the FDA involve burns from hot food, splattering grease or steam. I’d rather forego the convenience of a microwave oven for the satisfaction and taste of traditional cooking. Frankly, I value my food too much. Passing on the microwave oven is a no-brainer for me. 

Now it’s your turn: What are your thoughts about microwave ovens?

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