Microwave ovens: Another form of radiation?

February 23, 2012

Food, Health, Nutrition

Also concerning is the fact that exposing food to microwaves may alter its molecular structure, especially that of proteins.

by Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman — 

Radiation from nuclear power plants has been in the news a lot these days — and for good reason. But what about the radiation emitted from your microwave oven?

Convenience vs. health

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like radio waves or light waves. They do not use nuclear power, but they do use radio frequencies (RF) as do radio and TV broadcast towers, cell phones and radar. They are a popular way of reheating or even cooking foods, with a whopping 95 percent of the population owning them.

A primary objection to microwave cooking is that it heats food very unevenly, as anyone who has ever found a “cold spot” can tell you. Not only is the cold spot unappetizing, but it means that the food has not been heated enough to destroy any food-borne bacteria or parasites.

In the book 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.” This is another reason that a microwave may not be the best method of cooking raw meat or raw fish.

Also concerning is the fact that exposing food to microwaves may alter its molecular structure, especially that of proteins. We simply do not know the long-term effects of this relatively new cooking method.

A small Swiss study revealed some rather unexpected news about microwaved foods. In the two-month study, eight participants ate cooked and raw food. The food cooked was prepared using both microwave and conventional cooking procedures and was fed to the volunteers first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Blood samples were taken before the meal, 15 minutes after and two hours later.

“Surprisingly, many detrimental changes were noted in the blood samples of those participants fed the microwaved meals. Not only were their cholesterol levels elevated, but cell changes appeared in erythrocyte, leukocyte, hematocrit and hemoglobin values, all of which descended to low-normal, suggesting a marked trend toward anemia.”

In the 1970s, researcher William Kopp examined studies conducted by Soviet scientists about what was then a new technology. Kopp’s review of the Soviet research turned up additional interesting — and unsettling — facts about food cooked in 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 engineer 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: “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 hertz) 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 1,600 foot radius in some cases.

The book Radiation Rescue, by Kerry Crofton, Ph.D., offers even more safeguards for microwave users. The following suggestions are from Rob Metzinger, an electronics engineering technologist and consultant with the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology.

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

The recent 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, which continue to drown us in a sea of invisible pollution.

Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman has a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition and is the author of more than 30 books on health and nutrition. Her latest book is Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution. and


Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2011.

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