The microwave has become a very popular kitchen appliance since its development in the mid-twentieth century. But are microwaves safe? The convenience the microwave offers seems to trump this concern, as it gains popularity among those who are super busy and don’t have time to cook or heat food up in an oven or on a stove or similar appliance. As American society continues to push toward a faster food culture influenced by the desire to both save time and achieve instant gratification, the popularity of this little appliance is not surprising.
There is, however, much disagreement and concern about whether or not microwaves are dangerous or if they are safe to use. In this article, I will shed a little light on the history of the microwave, how it works, and my overall thoughts about it.
Are Microwaves Safe? What Does the Science Say?
Like most health topics, there is a lot of conflicting information about the dangers of microwaves. Some popular health gurus like Dr. Joe Mercola insist on the proven dangers of microwaves, while others herald “the not-so-dangerous truth behind microwaves.” Welcome to The Information Age.
Dr. Lita Lee published a 2001 article called Microwaves and Microwave Ovens in which she gives an overview of the history of microwaves:
Microwave ovens were originally developed by the Nazis for use in their mobile support operations. After the war, the Allies discovered medical research done by the Germans on microwave ovens. These documents and the microwave ovens were transferred to the United States War Department and classified for reference and scientific investigation.
The Soviet Union also retrieved some microwave ovens and has done the most thorough research on their biological effects. As a result, their use is outlawed. The Soviets have issued an international warning on the health hazards (both biological and environmental) of microwave ovens and similar frequency electronic devices.
Other Eastern European scientists reported the harmful effects of microwave radiation and have set strict environmental limits. For reasons not related to health (smile!), the United States has not accepted European reports of harmful effects, even though the EPA estimates that radio frequency and microwave radiation sources are increasing at 15% per year.
Some of the harmful effects of microwaves she mentions include:
- carcinogenic substances forming in microwaved food
- decrease in the nutritive value of microwaved food
- leakage of chemicals from food packaging into microwaved food
- pathogenic changes observed in consumers of microwaved food
- death for those who received microwaved blood in a routine transfusion
How Microwaves Work
My Personal Thoughts
While it is difficult to come to a concrete conclusion with such conflicting information about microwaves out there, there are a few reasons that I lean toward avoiding them completely:
1. Microwaving food is cooking food with radiation. While certain forms of radiation may be less damaging than others, do you really want to chronically expose yourself to radiation?
2. Many of those defending the safety of microwaves have an agenda to sell it. Unfortunately for truth seekers, capitalism is king in the United States. Those who point out the dangers of microwaves have no financial reason to do so.
3. Microwaving food alters its chemical and molecular structure. Eating radioactively mutated food just doesn’t seem to be worth the extra convenience.
4. The former Soviet Union, which has researched microwave ovens to a MUCH greater extent than the United States have, has banned the use of microwaved ovens within its borders. Uh, red flag.
Ultimately, even if it is remotely possible that microwaves are safe, is it worth the risk? I personally don’t believe so. Plus, food never tastes as good when cooked in a microwave as opposed to a stove or oven. Just my opinion…but it’s true ;)
An act so sacred and special is worth waiting for. Cook your food with love.
Do you use microwaves and why? Comment below!