Do you stand in front of your microwave while it's heating food?
Or do you turn it on and run for cover, worried about the potential microwave dangers?
Microwaves, a common appliance found in just about every household, may be convenient, but they harm your health.
Did you know that your microwave might be a health hazard? Microwaves' quick cooking radiation robs your food of nutrients and causes toxic chemicals to leach out of plastic containers.
Microwave ovens, originally sold as "Radaranges," use technology that passes electromagnetic waves through food, exciting the molecules and causing them to move and heat up as they respond to the microwave radiation.
Most people don't think twice about heating up leftovers, defrosting meat, or popping popcorn in the microwave. Many new mothers even heat up breast milk or formula in the microwave.
Studies on the effects of microwaves have been quite controversial as microwave technology has evolved over the years. In 1976 Russia even banned the use of microwaves!1
Here in the US, microwaves are ubiquitous, but recent research shows that microwaves significantly decrease the nutritional value of food.
Microwaves have been shown to affect foods in these ways:2
Microwaving foods may preserve more vitamins than boiling, for example, but that does not make it a safe and nutritious cooking choice.
Microwaving can significantly alter levels of vitamins and nutrients that you need for a healthy body.
Another risk when using microwaves is that cancer-causing compounds from plastic containers and plastic wrap can leach into your food.3
FDA science policy analyst Catherine Bailey says "When you microwave, it's a good idea not to have the plastic touch the food."4
This is especially important advice for mothers who are currently heating their baby's bottle in the microwave.
Many mothers already know that microwaves heat liquids unevenly, so milk heated in the microwave could have hot spots that scald your baby. But the greater risk is that hormone-disrupting chemicals from plastic bottles heated in the microwave leach into the milk.
Bisphenol A, a chemical toxin that affects neural and reproductive development, is present in some popular plastic baby bottles and low doses of the chemical are linked to cancers, early puberty, obesity, and diabetes.
Avoid the possibility of toxins contaminating your food by not microwaving in plastic at all.
Baby bottles heated in the microwave can leach dangerous toxins into breast milk or formula. Your best bet? Avoid microwaves altogether when heating liquids for your baby.
The easiest way to avoid the damaging effects of microwaves is not to use them, but here are some ways to help you lessen your dependence on microwaves:
You do not have to subject yourself to microwave dangers. By choosing other methods to cook and store your food, you can be sure that your food will retain nutrients and be toxin-free.
Raloff, Janet, "Microwaving can lower breast milk benefits," Science News, 25 Apr 1992.
Vellejo, F, et al, "Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking," Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 83, no. 14, pp. 1511-1516. Nov 2003.
Watanabe, Fumio, "Effects of Microwave Heating on the Loss of Vitamin B 12 in Food," J. Agric. Food Chem., 46 (1), 206 -210, 1998.