Microwave Ovens – Convenience vs. Health

By Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD,CNS.

Radiation has sure been in the news a lot these days—and for good reason. But what about the radiation emitted from your microwave oven? Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like radio waves or light waves. They don’t use nuclear power, but they do use radio frequencies (RF) like radio and TV broadcast towers, cell phones, and radar. Although they’re a popular way of reheating or even cooking foods, I’ve never been comfortable with them—even though a whopping 95% of the population owns one.

In Guess What Came to Dinner, I wrote “Because microwaves do not always cook evenly, fish cooked by this method are often underdone and can harbor live parasites. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported a case in 1988 of a woman who noticed some ‘thin, tan, paper-clip-length’ worms squirming around in the uneaten piece of haddock she had cooked in her new microwave. Laboratory examination showed them to be anisakid worms.”

In the 1970’s, researcher William Kopp examined research conducted by Soviet scientists into what was then a new technology. Kopp’s review of the Soviet research turned up some interesting—and unsettling—facts about food cooked with microwaves.

These included:

  • Carcinogens that developed in some meats, milk, and cereal grains
  • A rise in stomach and intestinal cancers among those who ate microwaved foods
  • Dysfunctions in the digestive and lymphatic systems of those who ate microwaved foods
  • The formation of free radicals
  • A decline in the bioavailability of many nutrients
  • Destabilized proteins

Exposure and Solutions

Electrical engineers like Larry Gust—a certified building biologist with the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology who performs indoor environmental inspections and mitigations—had this to say about microwave ovens when I was researching Zapped.

“Unfortunately the microwave oven is designed to meet government standards on RF leakage. These standards are thousands of times too high. So, these units leak radiation right through the window in the door and this energy travels great distances in free air. This RF leakage is avoidable by where you position the microwave. But RF radiation is not the end of the story. The nutritive value of microwaved food has been destroyed by the violent vibration of the water molecules (2.4 billion Hz) in the food. I am sorry to say this, but you are better off not eating than to eat microwaved food.”

Gust has measured RF leakage from microwave ovens up to a 1600 foot radius around the oven in some cases!

Kerry Crofton, PhD’s wonderful book Radiation Rescue offers even more safeguards for microwave users.

These suggestions are from Rob Metzinger, an electronics engineering technologist, and consultant with the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology.

  • Get the newest, smallest, low-powered microwave you can, and always stand at least 15 feet away when it’s in use.
  • Avoid heating baby formula in a microwave. Keep infants and children far away when it’s on. (Furthermore, according to Radiation Rescue, the December 1989 of The Lancet reported that heating formula in a microwave changed several of the amino acids into non-biologically active synthetic forms—one which was toxic.)
  • If you need something defrosted, take it out of the freezer a night or two before and defrost it in the fridge.
  • Heat leftovers in a toaster oven or on a hot plate.

The events in Japan should make us all pause to reflect on the various kinds of radiation that we are now exposed to on a daily basis that are drowning us in a sea of invisible pollution.

© 2011 First Lady of Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article and picture were originally posted through Dr. Gittleman’s blog “Edge on Health” (www.annlouise.com/blog) on March 24, 2011. HMDI has reprinted them with permission from Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S.

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