Are Microwave Ovens Safe for Our Health | Chris Kresser

Are Microwave Ovens Safe?

by Chris Kresser

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Microwaving your food may not be as harmful as some health enthusiasts would lead you to believe.

Microwaves. These handy gadgets have been the source of much debate in the online health community, and it’s not hard to see why. The idea of “zapping,” “nuking,” or otherwise heating your food using microwave radiation can seem a little dubious.

In this article, I’ll take a look at the evidence behind some of the most common microwave concerns. Do microwaves leak radiation? Do microwaves destroy the nutrients in food? Do they denature proteins and make food toxic to our bodies? First, though, let’s start with the basics. How do they work?

How do microwave ovens work?

The aptly-named microwave oven uses microwave radiation to heat food. Electromagnetic (EM) radiation exists over a range of wavelengths, where shorter wavelengths (such as x-rays and gamma rays) have higher energy than longer wavelengths (such as radio waves). On the EM spectrum (pictured below), microwaves fall between radio and infrared waves.

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Image Source.

Each level of radiation has different effects on the molecules they interact with. Microwaves contain enough energy to induce molecular rotation, which is the lowest energy form of interaction, but they don’t have enough energy to induce molecular vibrations, electron excitation, or ionization. Microwaves have the greatest effect on water molecules, due to their polar structure, and these rapidly rotating water molecules transfer energy as heat to the other molecules in food.

Do microwaves leak radiation?

One concern many people have about microwave ovens is the simple fact that they emit, well, microwaves. Hasn’t exposure to microwave radiation been linked to cancer and infertility? Evidence is mixed; most published research concludes that low-level microwave exposure doesn’t present a significant risk to human health. (1, 2, 3) Even if it did, this is only an issue if the microwaves inside the microwave somehow escape the microwave and encounter your body, which (as you’ll see below) is unlikely.

The FDA requires that microwaves emit no more than 5 mW/cm2 of radiation at a distance of 2 inches from the microwave. They also point out that microwave radiation dissipates rapidly as you move away from the source, so a measurement taken 20 inches from the microwave would be about 1/100 of the measurement taken at 2 inches. This is good news, because it means that to avoid radiation from your microwave, all you have to do is step away from it while your food is heating.

Are #microwaves as unhealthy as we are told?

The other good news is that in general, real microwave emissions seem to stay below the federally mandated maximum. A study published in 2013 on microwaves in Palestine found that the radiation leakage measured one meter from the microwave varied from 0.43 to 16.4 μW/cm2, with an average of 3.64 μW/cm2. (4) A 2001 survey of microwaves in Saudi Arabia concluded that with 95% probability, a microwave will be found to leak between 0.01 and 2.44 mW/cm2 at a distance of 5cm, and only one out of 106 microwaves surveyed was found to leak more than the FDA limit. (5)

For comparison’s sake, a 2013 study measured microwave radiation emitted by cell phones at a distance of 3.5cm from the phone, and found levels of 10 – 40 μW/cm2 during a call and 0.35 – 10.5 μW/cm2 on silent. (6) Based on these numbers, having a cell phone in your pocket on silent mode exposes you to roughly the same level of microwave radiation as standing one meter from your microwave while it’s heating food.

Honestly, just don’t press your face up against the door of the microwave while your food is cooking, and step a few feet away if you can. If you’re going to be concerned about exposure to microwave radiation, you’d probably be better off getting rid of your cellphone than your microwave oven. (But that’s a topic for a another day.)

Do microwaves make proteins toxic?

Now, let’s talk about the effect of microwave heating on food. One oft-cited claim is that microwaves can “denature” proteins, making them toxic to the human body. First of all, I think there are some misconceptions about what exactly “denaturation” is. Contrary to how the word is often used, it doesn’t mean that a protein has ‘changed’ in some unspecified way to make it more toxic. When a protein is “denatured,” that specifically means it has unfolded and lost its three-dimensional shape, but all of the amino acids in the protein are still bonded together.

Heat in general denatures proteins, so cooking your food (using any heating method) will denature the proteins. Cooking can even be defined as heating something enough to denature the proteins. (7) Changes in pH also denature proteins. In fact, guess what one of the functions of stomach acid is? Denaturing the proteins you ingest! Proteins need to be unfolded (denatured) before digestive enzymes can cleave them into individual amino acids to be absorbed in your small intestine. “Denatured proteins” don’t sound so scary any more, do they?

Perhaps what people have in mind when they refer to “protein denaturation” is actually isomerization of amino acids. This is a completely different process, but it is a change that actually affects the nutritive value of proteins. Without getting too into the chemistry, amino acids can exist in two configurations, termed D- and L-, and isomerization is the process by which an amino acid switches from one configuration to the other. Our bodies almost exclusively use the L- form of amino acids, but pH changes and heat can cause amino acids in food to isomerize to the D- forms, which can’t be efficiently digested or utilized by our body. (8)

A few studies where large amounts of isolated D- amino acids are fed to rodents show potential harmful effects, but there’s no evidence that the levels of D- amino acids normally found in food are harmful. (9) Plus, many foods (such as raw dairy from ruminants and some fruits and vegetables) naturally contain low levels of D- amino acids.

In any case, there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference in levels of D- amino acids in foods cooked in the microwave compared with foods heated conventionally. One study conducted in 1989 found higher levels of D- amino acids in microwaved formula compared with other heating methods (10), but several more recent studies have found no difference. (11, 12, 13, 14, 15) Additionally, the general consensus seems to be that if more D- amino acids are formed, it is due primarily to over heating or uneven temperature distribution, rather than a specific effect of microwaves themselves.

Do microwaves destroy nutrients?

As far as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phenols, retention does not appear to depend on cooking method. Levels of nutrient retention were sometimes higher in microwaved food, and sometimes lower, depending on time, temperature, and amount of water used in the cooking process. (16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

In general, nutrients are lost from food during any type of cooking, and more nutrients are lost when the temperature is higher or the food is cooked for longer. Water soluble vitamins are readily leached into cooking liquid (no surprise there), so boiling food tends to result in greater nutrient losses than microwaving it with a small amount of water (unless you drink the water you boiled the food in, in which case you’d still be getting most of the nutrients).

As a final interesting data point, one study published in 1995 used a rat model to look at the overall effects of a microwaved diet in vivo. The diet consisted of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and some oil, cooked either in the microwave or conventionally, and was fed to rats for 13 weeks. To magnify any adverse effects of microwave cooking, the study authors added two additional experimental groups that received “abused” food, which had been reheated and cooled a couple times either conventionally or in the microwave. (21) At the end of 13 weeks, they found no adverse effects of microwave cooking on the rats.

Don’t fear the microwave!

In conclusion, microwaves aren’t as scary as some people make them out to be. Yes, they’re another source of microwave radiation in your home, but the levels are extremely low, and can be almost entirely avoided by simply stepping away while your food is heating. And compared with microwave radiation from other devices (particularly cell phones), radiation from your microwave oven is negligible.

Additionally, there’s no evidence that microwaves adversely affect the nutrient profile of foods. Because microwaves are a relatively new device, I prefer to think of them as “guilty until proven innocent” rather than the other way around, but given what we know about EM radiation and its effects on food molecules, there isn’t really a mechanism by which microwaves could destroy nutrients other than heat. And heat, of course, is an issue regardless of cooking method!

If you’re still skeptical of microwaves after reading this, by all means – use whatever cooking method makes you comfortable. I might be one of the few freaks in the world now that still doesn’t use a microwave, but I can’t say that it’s because of any safety concern or scientific concern. I’ve just never liked what they do to the texture of certain foods, and for whatever reason, I’ve never gotten into using one.

But if you enjoy the convenience of a microwave, don’t be afraid to use it – especially if being able to microwave your food makes the difference between heating up leftover Paleo chili or grabbing a Nutri-Grain bar for lunch!

What do you think about microwaves? Did reading this article change your opinion of them? Let me know in the comments!

271 Comments

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    • This dude Chris is an absolute moron! Like the worst kind. Dr. Mercola is a very trusted source. This dude Chris who did this article is probably paid by all the agencies including the government and Big Pharma that are trying to keep us sick so they can make money. It’s called greed and depopulation. There is way more reliable evidence then this dude to prove microwaves are bad. Microwaves are unnatural!

  1. Microwave ovens are suppose to have shielding. Before the stringent safety regulations were tampered with, a test to see if your microwave oven is safe, you would place a mobile phone inside of the MWO, closed the door, then ring the phone. And in the olden days when safeguards was safeguard, the phone would not ring, and the radiation 2 inches from the door was 0.25mW/M2.

    Today, due to the cancellation of the stringent safeguards, from 100 milligauss to 1,000 milligauss and in other countries it could be 2,000 milligauss, the radiation 2 inches from the door is now 5-10mW/m2, and if you put your phone inside of the new MWOs the phone would ring, and I am sure if you stuck your face to the door, you will do some damage to your brain.

    Now, the author did make a rash statement, he said to put your face up against the door of the MWO, well if you want a brain tumour then go on and do that after all, the radiation from a MWO is at 100 times greater than a mobile phone, and the author said that a MWO is the same as a mobile phone and it’s safe. Well, I haven’t seen any government document categorily saying the microwave non-ionised radiation as being “safe”, and particularly if you had a mobile phone emitting above the SAR then that phone would be banned if it was emitting 5mW/m2.

    The “Controlled Offensive Behaviour-USSR” (ST-CS-01-169-72 July1972) and US DIA Medical Centre (DST-1810S-076-76 March 1976) tells a completely different story of a complete cover-up. Here are some extracts from these documents:

    The “Controlled Offensive Behaviour-USSR” (ST-CS-01-169-72 July1972):
    “Low frequency electromagnetic fields have been found…to generate sonic and ultrasonic oscillations in living organisms…these oscillations produce elastic deformation in the organism…if the frequency of the outside field corresponds to the oscillation frequency of the cells, the latter deteriorate as a result of the mechanical resonance.”
    Extracts of the declassified US DIA Medical Centre (DST-1810S-076-76 March 1976):

    (1) “A strict enforcement of stringent exposure standards (safety regulations) (to microwave non-ionised radiation) (Wi FI), there could be unfavourable effects on industrial output and military functions.”

    (2) “Personnel (military) exposed to microwave (non-ionised) radiation (Wi Fi) below thermal levels experience more neurological, cardiovascular, and haemodynamc disturbances that do their unexposed (military) counterparts.”

    (3) “Some of the effects attributed to exposure include bradycardia, hypotension, and changes in EKG indices.”

    (4) “Subjects (military personnel) exposed to microwave (non-ionised radiation) exhibited a variety of Neurasthenic disorders and the most common subjective complaints were headaches, fatigue, dizziness, menstrual disorders, irritability, agitation, tension, drowsiness, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness and lack of concentration.”

    (5) “Recognition of the standard (stringent safety regulations of 1976) could also limit the application of new electronic technology by making the commercial exploitation of some products unattractive because of increased costs imposed by the need for additional safeguards (against microwave non-ionised radiation) (Wi Fi).”

    (6) “Alters the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, and this could allow neurotoxins in the blood to cross, as a result, an individual could develop severe neuropathological symptoms, either die, or become seriously impaired neurologically.”

    • Thank you George. I put a mobile phone inside my microwave oven, closed the door and called it. It rang. So if microwaves from the nearest o2 mobile phone tower can get in, maybe cooking microwaves can get out?

    • Aren’t words funny. It’s amazing how many people can see something like “does not present significant risk to human health” and take away that it presents no risk. Why is that? No significant risk? Well, first, how are these people defining “significant”? What happens just below significant? Negligible? Minor? It doesn’t mean nothing. Just as a person with Addison’s disease isn’t just fine one day and the next suddenly has adrenal gland failure, there is something in between. So what, here, is in between?
      How was this evidence compiled? Were there long-term studies? What were the parameters?
      You know, many people believe electricity causes no damage to health. But did you know that electricity causes positive ions (a waterfall produces negative ions, as do ocean waves and other things in nature. Positive ions come from electronics. People have had serious health problems from positive ions and have had to relocate themselves to places untouched by modern electronics, and people who go into Amish homes (or other homes without electric) often wonder why they feel so peaceful. That constant high-pitched, whining buzz of electricity is not without its harmful effects, moo matter what someone will say about “significant” risk.

  2. Ten Reasons not to Use Your Microwave Oven

    Based on Swiss, Russian and German clinical studies

    Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term, permanent, brain damage by “shorting out” electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].

    The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in micro-waved food.

    Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating micro-waved foods.

    The effects of micro-waved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.

    Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all micro-waved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.

    The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in a microwave oven.

    Micro-waved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This has been a primary contributor to the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in the United States.

    The prolonged eating of micro-waved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.

    Continual ingestion of micro-waved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.

    Eating micro-waved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.

    https://www.health-science.com/microwave_hazards.html

    • @Imun known – Let’s cite European studies, that gets rid of American bias and governmental control. Except . . .

      The Russian studies were picked up by a “researcher” called Bill Kopp, he never cited the source (only “Russian research”), didn’t state which journal, university or other research centre, didn’t show the basis of testing or the results, just the conclusions.

      The German study was one by “Raum & Zeld”, only these authors do not exist, this is a missprint of “Raum & Zeid”, a German magazine (Space and Time) with conspiratorial leanings. It published the German version of a Swiss article by Hans Hertel.

      The Swiss study was by Hans Hertel where he tested 8 subjects on diets containing raw and pasteurised milk, raw and cooked vegetables, organic and non organic vegetables, frozen and fresh vegetables. To these already existing 4 factors he added a 5th, microwave cooking. As he was a subject himself and as everyone knew what they were eating there were no blinds. 5 factors and 8 subjects means that there were no controls. He has never published a detailed paper, nor results only conclusions. It has never been peer reviewed. The whole study is worthless.

      The rest of your comments come from Bill Kopp’s article which is one of the sources for “The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking ” by Wayne and Lawrence which itself is a basis for Mercola.com’s site.

  3. What about fat oxidation? That has always been my concern, that the microwave would cause degradation for oils with lower smoke points.

  4. “There’s no evidence”, “There’s no evidence”, “There’s no evidence”. Every time a claim is refuted, this glib mantra is chanted. For a long time there was “no evidence” that life was on Mars. “No evidence” doesn’t mean “non existent”.

    But anyway, since we’re on the subject, the author of the article wrote “without getting into the chemistry of things” which sounds like the writer wants to avoid any detail of the actual discoveries that have been made, which are as follows:

    -A degeneration and destabilization of the external energy activated potentials of food utilization within the processes of human metabolism.

    -A breakdown of the human “life-energy field” in those who were exposed to microwave ovens while in operation, with side-effects to the human energy field of increasingly longer duration.

    -Degeneration and circuit breakdowns of electrical nerve impulses within the junction potentials of the cerebrum [the front portion of the brain where thought and higher functions reside]

    -A long term cumulative loss of vital energies within humans, animals and plants that were located within a 500-meter radius of the operational equipment

    -A degeneration and destabilization of internal cellular membrane potentials while transferring catabolic [metabolic breakdown] processes into the blood serum from the digestive process

    -A degeneration of the cellular voltage parallels during the process of using the apparatus, especially in the blood and lymphatic areas

    -A destabilization and interruption in the production of hormones and maintenance of hormonal balance in males and females.

    -Loss of balance and circuiting of the bioelectric strengths within the ascending reticular activating system (the system which controls the function of consciousness)

    -Markedly higher levels of brainwave disturbance in the alpha, theta, and delta wave signal patterns of persons exposed to microwave emission fields.

    -Due to brainwave disturbance, negative psychological effects were noted, including deceleration of intellective processes, loss of memory, loss of ability to concentrate, suppressed emotional threshold, and interruptive sleep episodes in a statistically higher percentage of individuals subjected to continual range emissive field effects of microwave apparatus, either in cooking apparatus or in transmission stations.

    -A degeneration and breakdown of nerve electrical circuits and loss of energy field symmetry in the neuroplexuses, that is, in the nerve centers, both in the front and the rear of the central and autonomic nervous systems.

    -Long lasting residual effects of magnetic “deposits” were located throughout the nervous system and lymphatic system.

    Disclaimer: Mainstream science says “no evidence”.

    • Jay Barrelll – Please cite references for ALL that; 500 meters from a cell phone tower or a kitchen microwave? Just throwing out info without references is worthless.

    • Jay, I agree with Donna…I’d like to see your citations for the claims you’ve made.

      More importantly, however, I feel it necessary to point out the basic tenets of scientific inquiry: forming a hypothesis, weighing evidence or research results, and generating a conclusion based on the facts studied. If you aren’t forming an opinion based on evidence, what are you basing it on? Superstition? Conjecture? Folk knowledge?

      You’ve stated that “‘No evidence’ doesn’t mean ‘non-existent'”. I would argue that, in fact, the lack of evidence for a position should encourage us to doubt the veracity of that position. In other words, if I can’t find anything that leads me to believe something is true, I would be well advised to be very skeptical about it.

      This is the essence of scientific thinking.

    • Do you have any research that supports your claims or are they just anecdotal? If so, who is making those claims?

    • Perhaps he is not a major in biology but in electricity and radio frequencies.

      This technology is not like Einsteins feild of science(nuke), but rather more of Tesla’s concepts which is safer. and Im good with that.

      Well if microwave tech no good, then switch to natural gases. If fosil fuels no more, then use wood. If no more wood, no more oxygen.

      Anyways other feild of sciences are good and always are welcome to any rebuttals.
      I don’t have any sources to prove my statements.

  5. Just because it’s not as bad for you doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. Using microwave instead of cooking with real fire is bad in general

    • That’s such an oxymoron. If you want to prove a point, please word it differently and provide cited evidence.
      (I understand your comment was from over 6 months ago, I just couldn’t ignore it.)

  6. You left out a major argument of the adverse effects of microwaves on food: the fact that they heat unevenly.

    When cooking on the stove, most types of food NEVER reach temperatures higher than 212 degrees Fahrenheit, because that is the temperature at which water boils at sea level.

    Microwaves, in contrast, use electromagnetic radiation. If a single molecule received all the energy from a single microwave, it’s reasonable to believe that the molecule could be heated to many thousands of degrees – hot enough to destroy it.

    There are two reasons this isn’t a problem. First, the fact that microwaves are very large – so large, in fact, that they can’t fit through the grid of holes in the microwave door. Microwaves might not heat food perfectly uniformly, but they cannot concentrate their energy on an area as small as a single molecule.

    Second… even if microwaves could destroy molecules through concentrated heating, they would only damage the molecules on the outside of the food. This is because microwaves don’t penetrate very deep into food. Substances like meat have a skin depth of about 2 centimeters in the microwave; that’s only 2 centimeters which could be damaged by the radiation. The rest of the food is unaffected (except by the natural transmission of meat from the outside to the inside).

    • I think you have it the wrong way around.

      MW ovens tend to heat to 100ºC (212ºF) because MWs work primarily on the water molecule which is a polar molecule (the 2 hydrogen atoms are both on one side giving a charge to that side which is what makes the molecule vibrate in an EM field, the friction from which is what heats the food). Yes, occasionally there are superheating effects.

      Conventional cooking (baking, frying, roasting, grilling) uses much higher temperatures from 180-240ºC. As heat and motion are linked (basically heat causes motion and motion causes heat), the molecules in food at 200ºC are vibrating far faster than in food in a MW oven.

  7. It is possible that microwaves are harmful because they allow us to cook in plastic. I remember when everyone had a stack of those cream-colored trays that frozen dinners made for the microwave came in. We used them over and over until they were totally caramelized! That’s really scary now that we know how bad some of the old plastics were.

  8. I avoid microwaving bc it alters the taste of the food…negatively imo.
    But my real concern is the potential dangers from cell phone radiation. Looking forward to your take on this….esp since unlike microwave ovens, cell phones are difficult to avoid.

    • The Non-ionizing radiation emitted by cell phones is extremely low frequency, there isn’t any scientific evidence showing that it causes serious illnesses.

      • bbsen comments that there isn’t any scientific evidence showing that cell phone radiation causes serious illness.
        I strongly disagree. There is too much evidence for me to list here. I refer anyone interested in reading about it to “A wellness guide for the digital age” by Dr. Kelly Crofton PhD.

  9. I have never been fond of using a microwave to heat or defrost food – simply because I find that it is very easy to over-cook the food, which affects the taste and texture… besides, I actually enjoy that tactile stimulation of stirring food in a pot on the stove…
    Having said that, it is great to see a well-written article about the safety of microwaves as they are certainly convenient at times…

  10. Chris: thank you for all your great information. Your website helps me educate people everyday in my community. Please let me return the favor in pointing you to one of the great scientists of our times: Mae Wan Ho. I highly suggest reading The Rainbow and the Worm(3rd edition) or visit her website The Institute for Science in Society. Granted there isn’t definitive evidence that microwaves are harmful, but there is so much exciting research going on in biophysics and the complex dynamics and role of water in organisms, that recommending microwaves doesn’t make sense anymore. She also has a book just on water now, but it is pretty dense and technical at parts and Rainbow and the Worm has an excellent chapter on water. I know you don’t like to jump ahead of the evidence, but it is pretty clear why microwaves could be harmful if you think about the implications of current research. There is more to life than biochemistry; understanding the biophysics is the future of science.

  11. I really wish you people would stop putting so many plugins and advertisements on your sites. They make coming to these sites unbearable as they take so long to load on phones through an email. You bandwith hogs are ruining The Internet. I am more concerned with that than microwaves.

      • Suggesting that a study occurred in Palestine is not remotely the same as suggesting that Israel does not exist. Perhaps a brush-up on basic geography and the history of the region is in order.

  12. “A study published in 2013 on microwaves in Palestine …” Do you mean Israel? If you do then call it Israel. This is 2015. I wouldn’t trust anything coming out of Gaza.

    • It would be a country if there was anything even close to fairness in the world. Palestine is a region, why do you feel upset about that? What arabs shouldn’t be allowed to do research? Are you racist?

    • You don’t have to “trust anything coming out of Gaza” because it’s someone else’s source. If you wish to pretend that a certain part of the world does not exist, despite numerous UN resolutions to the contrary, that’s your choice.

  13. If they are safe then why did the plants die in this simple trial.

    http://www.eutimes.net/2011/03/experiment-microwaved-water-kills-plants/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEuropeanUnionTimes+%28The+European+Union+Times%29

    And then theres this… http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/rf/microwaves.asp

    “After some 20 years of research into their use, Soviet Russia banned the use of microwave ovens for heating food in 1976 as they decided that the dangers outweighed the benefit of speed.

    The following is a summary of the Russian investigations that resulted in the banning of microwave ovens referred to above, published by the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in Portland, Oregon. Carcinogens were formed in virtually all foods tested. No test food was subjected to more microwaving than necessary to accomplish the purpose, i.e., cooking, thawing, or heating to insure sanitary ingestion.

    Microwaving prepared meats sufficiently to insure sanitary ingestion caused formation of d-Nitrosodienthanolamines, a well-known carcinogen. Microwaving milk and cereal grains converted some of their amino acids into carcinogens. Thawing frozen fruits converted their glucoside and galactoside containing fractions into carcinogenic substances. Extremely short exposure of raw, cooked or frozen vegetables converted their plant alkaloids into carcinogens. Carcinogenic free radicals were formed in microwaved plants, especially root vegetables.

    They were allowed again from 1987 when, under Perestroika, Gorbachev allowed many western business pressures to change problematic Russian regulations that did not fit in with “Western Free-Trade” practice.”

    Very interesting.

    • @Jarad
      Did you know that plants die if put in a closet? LOL
      Sure, we can all make irrelevant points to plants when we are dealing with human beings. Not sure about you but my body structure isn’t consistent with a daisy. Furthermore those articles are garbage- how much water? are the soils exactly the same in quantity, amount of fertilizer, and drainage consistency? Who and how did the person prune them? Are they qualified to know the proper pruning techniques for that type of plant? Etc. Etc.

      How do plants survive in the ocean?? If water held radiation then we would all die from swimming in an ocean/pool from sunlight radiation

      Get some real science

    • I suggest you start acquiring your “real” science knowledge from a credible source. The web site you cited is full of JUNK science crap.

        • Jarad, you are right, the “science fair” aricle is simply a hoax. So let’s look at Powerwatch. First, congratulations on choosing a non-American site. We foreigners get fed up with conspiracy theorists when we can see through them because we’re not American.

          However Powerwatch is still a biased one sided site that has fundamental misunderstandings about the science, history etc.

          1st, MW radiation does NOT violently rip molecules apart. If they did, then the greater heat of grilling, baking and frying would impart even more energy and have an even more violent impact. And if you tear apart a molecule of water (MWs work mostly on water as it has the highest polarity) you’d get an explosive hydrogen and oxygen mixture – which you don’t.

          Athermic effects are unmeasurable and also largely undetectable. The use of MWs in gene technology is not relevant as they use concentrated beams similar to lasers. And even if cells become impaired allowing viruses, fungi etc to invade this would be irrelevant as we are cooking the food for consumption.

          Then there is the sad misunderstanding about radiation and radio-activity. The two are NOT the same. Any article that even hints that they are should be disregarded immediately. This is a fundamental and elementary error. MWs cannot under any circumstances cause radiolytic compounds, they simply do not have the quantum energy to do so. Such compounds are the product of radiolysis causing molecular disassociation, radiolysis needs very high energy radiation like gamma radiation (both a form of radiation and a form of radio-activity).

          Powerwatch then states that the Soviets banned MW ovens. This is simply false. It was made up by a writer called Bill Kopp of Atlantis Rising Education Center, that was taken up by Antony Wayne and Laurence Newell and Mercola took it from them, but there is absolutely no evidence for the ban at all.

          Need I continue?

          The science papers cited are real but the conclusions drawn are taken out of context. Garcia-Viguera et all (2003) did find that there was a loss of 97% of flavonoids BUT steamed the broccoli for 3½ minutes but MWed broccoli in lots of water for 6 minutesn nearly twice as long. The the main advantages of MWing is less time and less water, 6 minutes in lots of water leaching much of the goodness would be like steaming for 10 minutes then plunging the result to be boiled for a further 5 minutes. One wonders what the effects that would have.

          Richard Quan et al. (1992) did indeed find that microwaving breastmilk had an adverse effect on the immunoglobin. However he compared near boiled MWed milk with warm traditionally heated milk. In the actual article it stated that heating to higher temperatures in saucepans was contraindicated too, that it was probably the heat not some mysterious MW factor that was the proble.

          I could go on.

          Essentially Powerwatch and Mercola are biased sites with a deliberately narrowed research parameter. The scientist has to look at all the evidence and form an opinion based on that. The populist forms his opinion then looks for the evidence to support it. If none can be found, fake it (hence the faked plant experiment). The difference in philosophy is huge.

          • Any representative of a group, be it Powerwatch, Mercola, or legislators, are at the mercy of whoever provides them information to base their conclusions and votes on.

            The larger or more highly-placed the representative, the greater the likelihood they will be fed erroneous data…. which leads to increasingly erroneous re-reporting of artifactual data, and bad votes.

            I’ve seen good sources and bad; read good articles and bad, on various sites, including Mercola. He, as do so many other representatives, has others gathering data and writing for him; sometimes, their techniques are noticeably ham-fisted, when they try to sway public.
            It’s bad practice, using trickery to sway public. But it’s been done increasingly, over the past 15 years, become so pervasive, it seems few notice it, and many encourage it.
            Bad Robots!

    • Just curious, have you read the actual studies they cited before making your own judgement? or you simply believe every intrepretation these 2 unknown experts have had made in a dot.com website?

  14. Hey Chris, this is a great article and really hits the nail on the head for people in more holistic health (hippie-dippie) channels who need some scientific backing to their strongly-held biases against microwaves. Im included in this! And this brings brings up another closely-related article id love for you to cover in the near future: Cooking methods broken down! Cast iron vs. non-stick. Non stick and the major cons? Tefflon? Microwavable plastics?
    Im a nutritionist in training and purist in my own home with utensils I use, yet I am also a nanny and postpartum doula working in many many other homes where scratched-up non-stick is the NORM. It doesn’t matter how much $ people make, cooking methods are not something we talk much about and its a big concern of mine. Id love to have this be a bigger conversation. Hope you get to this at some point! 🙂

  15. Mom noticed that if you heat food in the microwave and put it back to the refrigerator it spoils quicker than heating at stove. At my parents home the microwave broke down all surrounding appliances, eventhough they were further than 1 meter.
    And, Mom got so paranoid about radiation that she bought a meter to measure there were no radiation filtration, and a very old one had, but the “new” ones which broke down the appliances, didn’t show up any scape.
    Conclusion: I don’t use the micro, at my jobs I prefer to eat my lunch at room temperature, and I always move away from any when it is working.

  16. I am with you on this one Chris. If I did have a microwave I might use it for heating up a cup of tea but otherwise I don’t like how they cook food, regardless of their safety.

    • I agree! Regardless of the safety debate – I don’t like the bulk of the appliance when all I’ll ever use it for is reheating a cup of tea. That said, my mother reheats most meals in the microwave, and I feel better about that now after reading this Chris. THANKS!!

  17. It is much harder to prove the safety of something than to prove it causes harm. Microwaves appear safe for every metric that Chris covers, but it’s the things that he hasn’t covered (and may not be able to be known through studies if they haven’t been paid for) which leads me to avoid microwaves. I do take the approach of the precautionary principle with microwaves, primarily because of a lack of follow-up to a very disturbing study done by Hans Hertel which measured changes in the blood with exposure to microwaved food, as well as people’s anecdotes. “As soon as Hertel and Blanc announced their results, the hammer of authority slammed down on them. A powerful trade organization, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry, known simply as FEA, struck swiftly. They forced the President of the Court of Seftigen, Kanton Bern, to issue a ‘gag order’ against Hertel and Blanc. … As those powerful special interests in Switzerland who desire to sell microwave ovens by the millions continued to suppress open debate on this vital issue for modern civilisation, new microwave developments blossomed in the United States.” As far as I have been able to find, there’s been no follow-up studies funded to verify Hertzel’s microwave study. The reference which shows the results of his study can be found here: http://www.mercola.com/article/microwave/hazards2.htm#hanshertel

      • Attacking the messenger and not the message is a logical fallacy. Even a “hack” can have useful information, though I do disagree with your characterization Dr. Mercola. He should have been more diligent in checking his sources with regards to the claim that the Soviet’s banned the microwave oven… but overall he does a great benefit to the health community.

        Flaws can be found in Hertel and Blanc’s methods. My question is “has their flashing red light warning ever been directly followed up by any non-industry financed followup?” I don’t know the answer to this, and I hope someone can point me to the followup or a related study if there is one. A thousand studies can show how microwaves are safe by Other measures, but that doesn’t prove safety if the specific allegations brought forth by Hertel and Blanc prove true.

    • Mercola is NOT a reputable site and is extremely biased.

      To answer your query re “European” studies, Hans Hertel was a Swiss food scientist who conducted a study on the effects of microwaved food. However he has never published his study in English (and only articles not peer reviewed papers in his native German). He has consistently refused to release his results, only his interpretations.

      In summary, his study was done on 8 individuals including himself (there goes one level of blind control).

      He tested the following :
      – raw organic milk vs pasteurised milk (variable 1)
      – raw vegetables vs cooked vegetable (variable 2)
      – organic vegetables vs non organic vegetables (variable 3)
      – fresh vs frozen food (variable 4)

      These were mainly macrobiotic vegetarians but there were no controls for low level anaemia or lactose intolerance (milk was included in the testing), both of which are more common in such diets.

      No-one fell ill, if his conclusions were true after just 8 weeks, then we should be seeing a mass extinction by now, we are not. His methodology has been criticised and disputed.

      I hope that you can see that there were already too many variables before he even thought of introducing microwaved cooking as well. These protocols are appalling and there is no way this “study” would ever be published in a peer reviewed journal, there are just too many factors that could be attributed to the results – if the results were actually true.

      His associate resigned before Hertel published the results on the grounds that he had had no input on the conclusions. His name does NOT appear on the article that was published in Switzerland, though it does on the article published in the German magazine Raum & Zeid, which following a typo has become a separate article written by Raum & Zeld. It’s only the one article.

      In the Swiss article, he stated that the scientific evidence was clear that MW ovens caused death. The Swiss authorities clamped down on the magazine (Hertel was only a co-defendant) and said that you were not allowed to state as truth something for which there was no evidence. The European Court of Human Rights over-ruled the Swiss saying that it was manifestly an opinion not fact. What the court said in fact was that he had the right to say that MW ovens were dangerous because of freedom of speech.

      We are still waiting for a study that has more than a light hint that MW ovens are more dangerous than ordinary cooking.

      • Hertel not publishing in English is a fault? (how does this affect the veracity of his claims?)

        Are blind controls needed if the metric being measured (qualities of the blood) is unaffected by whether or not the person knows what he’s ingesting? I might be missing something here.

        I don’t know why, maybe it was your source, but you’ve left out some of the things he tested – here’s a complete list of things which were ingested and then the effects on the blood were measured:
        1) Raw milk
        2) Raw milk from same source, conventionally cooked
        3) Raw milk from same source, pasteurized
        4) Raw milk from same source, microwaved
        5) Raw vegetables from an organic farm
        6) Raw vegetables from same source, conventionally cooked
        7) Raw vegetables from same source, frozen and then defrosted in microwave
        8) Raw vegetables from same source, cooked in microwave

        The CLAIMS (granted, would like to see follow-up studies for verification):
        The blood values which showed most extreme changes following microwaved food ingestion included decrease in blood hemoglobin, various negative changes in blood cholesterol values, and distinct short-term decrease in lymphocytes (white blood cells).

        As far as not seeing the effects due to the microwave… I think broad correlations are worthy of being more explored in depth. One trend to look at is continually increasing cancer rates, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that microwaved food COULD be contributing to some degree. Certainly we do not need to go extinct from something for it to be harmful!

        Again not a great study, and probably suffered from some confirmation bias in some way, but Very Simple to be followed up in a more diligent way. Where are the other studies which look at hemoglobin, lymphocytes, and cholesterol values of blood relative to various methods of prepared food after ingestion?

        A study which does not explicitly follow-up on Hans Hertel’s, but which implicitly may help to explain some of his results, is this one:
        “Non-Thermal Effects in the Microwave Induced Unfolding of Proteins Observed by Chaperone Binding”.
        From the abstract:
        “We show that microwaves cause a significantly higher degree of unfolding than conventional thermal stress for protein solutions heated to the same maximum temperature.”

        • Hi Brian,

          No I wasn’t saying German is faulty, my point was that it means that 99% of English speakers would not have read his paper and would therefore base their opinions on biased second hand reporting.

          Blind controls are needed to ensure that any placebo effect is eliminated even if it is a physiological factor that is being tested.

          You are correct in listing all the factors. I was trying to simplify them. However it just makes it worse as we now have 9 factors including MW cooking on 8 subjects, there is absolutely NO way that this could give any meaningful results at all!

          Hertel has never published his results, merely interpretations. We do not know if “decreased levels of lymphocytes” fell within norms or were significantly off.

          There have been no follow up studies partly because we can’t find a mechanism that would produce such results.

          In conclusion – an appallingly controlled study that showed nothing at all and should NEVER be cited.

          As for the other study you cited, yes I agree, but protein unfolding is the first step of denaturing proteins, something that is quite normal in cooking, indeed essential as we often do not need the protein itself we need its building blocks to make our own human proteins.

          As an aside, the German for protein is “eiweiss” which means egg white (albumin). The proteins in egg white are clear, they turn white when they are denatured.

  18. This article is so timely! I’m pregnant right now and I’ve never really seen a source on microwaves I can trust. I’m very thankful for your input. Now I can stop looking like a crazy person and running in the other room while I’m microwaving something, for fear that it will “attack” my unborn child! 🙂

  19. I don’t use one either. I am surprised however that you endorse them (sort of). I also did a post on them and didn’t take either side but recommend against using them because too little is known.
    Also, it is not that d-aminos are harmful to us but renders the nutrients useless to us as we do not absorb or utilize them. Of course you state that all cooking methods do that so…
    And honestly, 13 weeks is not even close to long enough to determine the effects of microwaved food on our health.
    I do like the reference to reheating paleo chili but that can also be done quickly on the stovetop.

  20. Hi Chris,

    You briefly mentioned drinking the water to get the nutrients back after cooking but I was curious if someone with thyroid or bone issues should stay away from that when steaming or blanching veggies because of the oxalates? I have read mixed reviews so I was just curious on what you thought 🙂

    Thanks!

    • Hi Katie,

      Obviously, I’m not Chris, but I wanted to say if you do have oxalate issues (e.g. kidney stones, joint pain, GI trouble, etc.) you would be better off not drinking the cooking liquid. The soluble oxalate from the food being cooked leaches into the water (if it is immersed. I’m not sure about steaming).

      Boiling and then throwing out the cooking water is one of the methods used to lower the oxalate content of foods for those of us following a low oxalate diet.

      Dee

      • I do no need to lower my oxalate amount but I am a nutritionist and I have a ton of people who suffer from all of the above and just want to clear it with an expert instead of reading here and there. Thanks for you info.

        • Since there isn’t a response from Chris yet, I thought you might find this helpful. There is lots of information (including study results), available at the Trying Low Oxalates yahoo group. The list owner is researcher Susan Costen Owens, who I understand has had a specific focus on oxalate issues for about 20 years.

          It sounds like you are doing a lot to help people, that’s great to hear. Now I will butt out. 🙂

  21. I don’t want to use/have a microwave- but my husband does…. It’s been an ongoing conversation in our house with my point being the nutritional depletion of the reheated food…having read this article I guess I’d be more open to having one for him to use

  22. Dear Chris,
    I do agree that the texture in microwaving is awful and I can say that this invention has never been used in my home. I prefer not to even own a microwave. I think of it like ultra pasteurization. Zapping something at a high heat for a short amount of time. I think it changes the true nature of the food, and I really do believe there is no was nutrients can be preserved under this method. Interesting research however, but this didn’t change my mind, or even make me consider using one! Thanks for the info!

    • Coremus, this seems like a pretty easy experiment to replicate in your home. As a professional researcher, I would attempt to replicate this “study” yourself, several times, using several plants 😉 Actually, this sounds like a science experiment for my kids!

      • I would like to do this experiment myself. Does he clarify if the microwaved water is hot when he waters the plant?

        Between these two articles, I have no desire to start microwaving food, BUT I also feel more comfortable with other people using it around me without fearing leaked radiation lol.

      • You should do the experiment yourself but on more plants and have a non-heated water control. Please keep all other factors the same (in the experiment referenced above, the earth is different indicating different earths or amounts of water or temperature or ventilation or light – but something was different).

        Replication is a basic principle of science, you could replicate what this experiment did exactly.

        – Buy two plants
        – Cut the leaves off the one you like least
        – Photograph them.

        That is all that happened, the rest is just padding to make it sound good.

  23. I am with you, Chris. I don’t use microwaves to cook either. I don’t like the texture of the foods in most cases no matter how hard I tried years ago. Now all I use it for is to reheat my coffee and leftovers. And when I reheat leftovers, I do it at a lower wattage for a longer period of time so as not to dry it out, etc.etc. I’m not in that much a hurry.

  24. Too funny Chris, I was reading it thinking, “No way Chris, does Not use microwaves,” I was grateful to have you confirm and share that you actually don’t. I too am a strange nut and will continue to only use my microwave as extra pantry storage. But good to know it’s nothing to Fear!!

  25. What about the EMF profile from induction ranges? We are considering installing one in our new house. We spend a lot of time at the stove cooking, I estimate we are within 1ft from the stove top. How much radiation exposure does this translate to? Is this a health risk?

  26. Thanks as always, Chris, for your calm, reasoned take on the issues. I am moving toward using the microwave less, but let’s be honest — people who work full-time don’t always have time to heat up food on the stove (especially if we don’t have access to gas heat), and those of us who live in small apartments don’t have the luxury of owning a plethora of different-sized pots and pans. I don’t see how it helps people’s health to make them feel guilty about using microwaves.

    I feel that so many people in the primal/paleo community are so incredibly neurotic about these issues, and I can’t help but think that this stress that people put on themselves contributes negatively to their overall health (ie, orthorexia). All of this time that we spend obsessively reading about microwaves, perfect mineral balances, etc, is just more time spent away from actual human relationships and activities.

    Having said that, I’m logging off the computer and taking advantage of a rare sunny evening in the Pacific NW! Because that’s what life is all about, right? 🙂

    • For some of us, vitamin deficiencies and food sensitivities leads to depression and anxiety, lack of focus, etc. Some of us were medicated over the years–given dangerous psychotropic drugs and treatments that worsened our conditions… somewhere along the way, some of us realized we were physically NOT mentally ill. When our nutritional deficiencies were finally remediated and we learned to heal ourselves with good food (and exercise), we were returned to good feelings, productivity, to life…while those of us–the lucky ones–enjoy good health, we remember how subtle were the effects of bad nutrition. Yes; we may be a bit neurotic… But only in America is mal – nourishment “treated” with ECT.

      • Also I don’t consider potentially good info as guilt-inducing…I do not feel guilty for my having made bad food choices ( and then bad “medical” choices in taking dangerous psychotropic drugs to treat the side effects of what I now know is malnutrition). I simply failed to ask questions, to investigate, to listen. Example: I only recently asked for the ingredient list of the vit b-12 shot I take monthly…Why was I surprised to find aluminum on the list? While it offers antimicrobial properties, does my body need MORE aluminum (in a sea of it)? Also, why does my injection or any others (or even pills) need artificial colors? Or chemicals to change the appearance of the liquid in the syringe? (Because I won’t have a shot if it doesn’t “look” good?)
        Neurotic, afraid? No. More cautious? Yes. Better informed? You bet.

  27. As someone who has lived off grid on solar power for nearly 30 years I’ve never had a microwave because they’re energy hogs. Plus, I like to get intimate with my cooking by stirring, tasting and lovingly caring for food while it cooks. Can’t do any of that while food is cooking in a microwave. Call me crazy but who wants to eat something from a box that you cant stand close to while in use?!
    Like so many aspects of our modern lives it’s another way we’ve sold out connection for convenience. Solar ovens are a much better solution. Perhaps if everyone dumped their microwaves and switched to solar ovens we wouldn’t need so many nuclear and coal fired power plants.

    • That’s great, but some of us live in colder climes and solar power/ovens are not feasible. But I agree about the warm fuzzies of food preparation. Nothing better than slow-cooked food, or food cooked over a wood stove!

    • From what I’ve read, microwaves use less energy than stoves and so contribute less carbon dioxide emission. They use up to 60 of their energy heating the food. Also, I have half an hour for lunch at work, and even if there were a stove available, I wouldn’t want to waste time hovering over a burner when I could be reading.

    • I also have a solar oven and use it almost every sunny day to roast beets and sweet potatoes and beef roasts, BUT being the cook AND clean-up person for a paleo family, microwaves have one VERY solid advantage when it some to the dishes! You don’t have to wash the pan to have a warm lunch. I know I am not alone when I say that the dishes often take longer to do than the actual food prep.

  28. I hope you’re planning to tackle the bigger picture of EMF’s on our health- ie cell phones, wifi and smart meters! We need a rational voice on this topic.

  29. As Chris states the only real danger to health from the microwave would appear to be those generally associated with over heating food. Over heating food is a danger to health regardless of the means used to over heat the food. The problem is, it is extreemly easy to over heat food in a microwave. I’m sure many people have ended up with a jacket potato (any variety) that could be used as a wepon due to its overcooked consistency of a rock. I tend to use a microwave only for a limited number of items (as I agree with Chris most food is awful microwaved) and I take great care not to over cook them.

  30. Microwaves are not resident radiation in layman terms. But there are some certain properties which I could not come across in this article. So let me kindly add them.
    * Thermal runaway: Microwave heats certain materials/foods/liquids in a very special manner (like a kind of resonance) and there could be super-heated areas in a manner of seconds. This is rare but possible and your coffee may blow up to your face. So stay for a couple of seconds once you heat something in MW.
    * Microwave does change material properties: Not necessarily for food but for chemical reaction speed up, MW is utilized as catalyst sometimes. Certain special molecules can only form in case of MW heated or triggered reaction chambers. Hell a lot of MW assisted chemical reaction articles out there in the science circles.
    * Microwave heats evenly: Considering a stirred MW once the MW radiation is even (not resonant within the cavity) the target (food in this case) is evenly heated. So unlike conventional ovens working with convection, MW is instant and even making it more economical in terms of energy.
    * MW leakage fear: MW leakage is not a concern. I say this with MS EE degree and over +100 field measurements of different sources. Here is the math. MW oven leakage is below 50W/m2. Your cellular phone is around 0.8 W and with half dipole antenna it almost sends half of its energy to your head. The spread is less and the distance is a few cm to your head. So 50 W/m2 spreading to your whole body with at least you being 50 cm away. While your phone spreads 0.8 W/(0.07)power2 at 2 cm. So exposure roughly 50W/m2 divided by (0.5)p2 =”200 W/m2″ (dont get lost with the units) while cellular phone is 0.8W/ (0.07)p2 divided by (0.02)p2 = “408000 W/m2”. So your brain is simply cooked with cellular terminal in the long calls. (This is not a correct calculation but it is straight approach-wise for comparison of exposure)
    Cellular phone operates around 2100 MHz (depends on the country as well) while MW operates around 2450 MHz. Do you know which part of the spectrum your WiFi works? Let me guess… 2450 MHz!!! mainly…

  31. A woman who does live blood cell analysis once told me that she can tell when someone eats microwaved food by the type of irregularities in observed blood cells.

  32. We removed our microwave (replaced it with an extractor fan). Took about 30 days to get used to working without it. It has now been 5 years and we never think about it.

  33. CELL PHONE and EMF’s:
    If you do that, please include infer from the Swedish study, which was extensively discussed in a 3- month long series, which ran in the New Yorker, or maybe it was Smithsonian, magazine, June-July and August, in approximately 1993, 1994 or 1995.
    We had that whole series at Stratford’s office, but I cannot remember exact year.
    Those pages included very specific findings, and quoted many studies, not just the Swedish one.
    ALSO: I’m sure you know, Dr. Chris, but many don’t, that when considering research, it’s important to read the actual studies and data; sometimes the summaries differ markedly from actual data–particularly if reviewing Docs dislike, or are paid to denounce, a particular thing being researched–because most readers don’t make time to read the actual data and study content, they opt to read only the summary.
    Then there are the politics and profit preserving factions who tend to try to tweak data to suit them–on BOTH sides of the mainstream / alternative fence.
    AND, sometimes research parameters are falsified in some very creative ways—it’s very important to learn who paid for them, which often requires real digging to learn who’s behind the funders listed on the top of the stack, who’s on what interlocutory boards, etc. [Like Hillary’s history of being a Monsanto corporate lawyer; or, Cheney excusing himself from Halliburton just before it became big in the Middle East; or, Obama appointing an “ex” Monsanto exec as a VP for the FDA, for instance—corporate level execs can be posted in one position art some other venue, but quietly, under-the-table, still active with the other corporations]
    It’s common for industries with vested interests in making a product profitable, to tweak the way parameters are arranged, and/or, to falsify data and readings. This was done with Brachy-Therapy [radiation-bead implants for cancer treatment] research, and with Nicotine patches and gum; I was part of staff in one hospital that ran those researches, and witnessed what was done–otherwise, On Paper, those LOOK like successful projects… BOTH have been being marketed to public for over 20 years, despite failures and falsifications which were never documented, during research phases. Those researches were over 30 years ago. Stuff like that happens on far too many important research projects, which affect millions, or even billions, of people; I’ve read too many projects that have hints of those things in them.
    When people like me die off, there will be no more witnesses to that corruption of process, for those sorts of researches.

    • A few points I like to make. I came across articles that 1) Russians banned microwaves somewhere in the 60’s 2)Blood,
      because it was needed quickly, warmed in a microwave caused the patient to die. 3) identical plants given microwaved water produced abnormal fruits and were stunted compared to plants given conventionally heated water. This would be easy to test for a first hand unbiased opinion.

      • Microwaved and cooled water does not kill plants, nor does it stunt their growth. The oft cited case of the patient dying after blood was warmed in a microwave was found to be not true. The patient died from a blood clot, which is a risk in surgery. Heating blood in a microwave does increase the risk of overheating or the blood, which destroys the red blood cells, regardless of heating method. There is an additional risk of uneven heating with a microwave. If done properly, blood can be heated in a microwave.

        http://www.snopes.com/science/microwave/plants.asp
        http://hoaxes.org/weblog/comments/microwave_cooking_is_killing_you
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9291364

      • Oh please. The USSR did NOT ban microwave ovens, this was a story made up by Bill Kopp years ago that has ended up on Mercola’s website among others. There is absolutely no evidence for this at all. None. Neither did the Nazis invent “radiomissor” MW ovens.

        Oh please, again, an old story about heating blood, cited frequently yet never with a reference to the autopsy, or the findings of the jury, or the decision of the judge. Neither are alternatives considered, e.g why would a surgeon need blood so quickly that conventional means were unacceptable. To me that says “medical emergency” and might have been fatal anyway. BTW, the autopsy said it was a blood clot, the old lady’s family claimed that the nurse had “cooked” the blood too long, the jury found for the hospital. The case is Warner vs Hillcrest.

        Again, oh please not again. Do the test yourself and be surprised. The most common version (Arielle Reynolds, a granddaughter or a school science fair project) was actually faked and even if it wasn’t the protocols are appalling.

        It annoys me that so many deliberately ignore the scientist (and so often then claim it’s scientists not listening!!) because the science doesn’t support their argument. If the evidence doesn’t support your hypothesis, do what every scientist is forced to do in a similar position and modify your hypothesis. If necessary, ditch it. Scientists have been doing this for years when new evidence comes along.

  34. QUESTION:
    Why no mention of antioxidant destruction in foods cooked in microwave? I heard of one study that showed nearly 100% of antioxidants in foods, are destroyed by microwaves.
    Whether that is from the heating process, or from the microwaves themselves, was not clear.

  35. We were talked into buying 1 of the 1st microwaves [Litton], over 40 years ago “so that [you] can better sell them, because you can tell others about how you use yours”. Those things were LARGE and HEAVY. Modern units are far better, smaller and with turn-tables to help avoid hotspots.
    Hotspots in microwaved food are common and problematic; in old units, had to stop/start to turn food to decrease those hotspots, but not effective. Hotspots are what mostly causes the bad textures and overcooked/undercooked spots.
    Microwaves are not so good at cooking eggs as they are at exploding them.
    We garaged-sales that behemoth; got smaller unit later.
    We rarely used that microwave for over 15 years, beyond hotting up water for tea/coffee.
    Someone gave us a 2nd small unit, which we re-gifted to someone in desperate need of a cooking device. Ended up gifting the other one to a group in need of a way to heat snacks.
    Never got another one. Don’t need it. Living in a tiny space, microwave ovens take up more real estate than they work to earn.
    We discovered portable induction burners: REALLY like those, even the cheap ones are great. Induction duplicates regular stove cooking; heats faster; can cook at lower temps; easily controlled; timer easy to set prevents walk-away-burned-pans; all good stuff.
    We’ve been using 2 Mr. Induction burners, exclusively, for our cooking, for over 2 years, augmenting with a small, 30+ y.o. toaster oven/steamer for any small baking. Perfect for 2 people; saves chunk of electricity off the power bills. Saves our pans from damage by burned food; much easier to avoid over-cooking foods.
    Induction burners are pretty much fireproof, too—if we’d had them while care-taking our elder parent, she’d never have been able to cause a stove fire from spilled oil; she’d have been safer doing the cooking she liked to do.
    Induction most-closely approximates regular stove-top cooking, but far more safely.
    It probably has a similar EMF footprint as a microwave, if anyone is concerned about EMF’s.

  36. I don’t use a microwave and have not for many years as I do not like the texture or uneven heating of the food. I have read many articles on its safety, both for and against. I believe if there is any suspected harm from using a microwave why would you? Your body, your choice.

  37. I generally use my microwave for heating coffee or tea, occassionally for cooking vegetables, or reheating something. I used to not like coffee heated in the microwave, because it tasted burnt. Then I realized that since I had been heating coffee that had set in the pot, with the heat on under it for hours, before being turned off. Yeah, the coffee tasted burnt, but it probably was BEFORE I put it in the microwave. Now, I shut off the coffee maker when I get my first cup. Coffee doesn’t taste burnt anymore. The food generally only feels rubbery if it’s overheated. But it’ll turn rubbery if overheated conventionally too.

  38. the is one serious fault in your article about Microwave ovens. Here it is: “A study published in 2013 on microwaves in Palestine” when you click on reference you see: “1Center for Radiation Science and Technology, Al-Quds University, PO Box 20002, Jerusalem, Palestine.”
    1. Jerusalem is capital of Israel
    2. Al-Quds University is University of Jerusalem
    3. There is no such country as Palestine and it never existed.
    4. The “scientist ” did his research on Israelis taxpayers money.
    I do not know if the mistake was made intentionally.

    • You are absolutely right about that. People in general have no idea what “radiation” is. Most have come to think it is synonymous with “radioactive”. I saw an article a few days ago about a video where someone uses an “electromagnetic radiation detector” to show how dangerous CF light bulbs are because they emit EM radiation. The person apparently had no idea that if a bulb did NOT emit EM radiation, it would not produce light or heat. I suppose it would blow their minds to realize that their bodies emit EM radiation.

  39. I am not sure how many we are up to, but I am a non-microwaver as well. Why add any extra radiation to your life? That the cell phone is worse is not a factor; I dont have a cell either.

    • Your computer screen emits radiation. You NEED (electromagnetic) radiation to see. The most dangerous forms of radiation (truly radioactive materials) are helium nuclei, free electrons/positrons, and gamma rays, which are on the opposite side of the spectrum from microwaves. To the best of my knowledge, no parts of the microwave contain or emit any of those. If in doubt, use a Geiger counter.

  40. I have heard….that one is not supposed to heat up Colostrum in the microwave because it supposedly destroys the ‘goodies’ in the colostrum.
    I am curious to know if you think that this is an old wives tale or true. I would think that overheating the Colostrum certainly would not be a good thing but warming it in the microwave…?

    • One of the studies linked to in the article did not deal with colostrum, but it did discuss formula and breastmilk. It found “The content of nutrients and antibacterial factors in milk are maintained unchanged provided the final temperature does not exceed 60°C.” I would guess the same holds true for colostrum.

    • I’ve always been told not to heat up breastmilk in the microwave. I did it once, out of desperation. I tasted it and it seemed fine to me, but the baby would absolutely not drink it. I’m not sure if that means anything but…yeah.

      • The reason they said not to heat up baby milk (it was not just breast milk, it included formula too) in a microwave had nothing to do with destroying any nutrients. It was because microwaves heat food unevenly… it can cause hot spots in the baby milk and lead to serious burns in the baby’s mouth….

        ie it is a safety issue rather than a nutritional one.

  41. Are there dark field microscope studies showing the impact on blood clumping eating MV food vs. other forms of cooking? Also using muscle testing could show wide individual differences on MV food/water has on energy status. Certainly there must be studies on this?

  42. Good to know that microwaves are safe from a distance.

    I have heard that microwaves destroy enzymes in food. Is this true? Can cooking with other methods destroy them anyway?

    • As Chris says, enzymes are proteins. Proteins are denatured by cooking, including microwave cooking. So yes, microwaving destroys enzymes in food. However, enzymes in food are unlikely to have any health benefits as they are also destroyed by stomach acid.

      • Actually the only thing that Chris said about enzymes in his article was “Proteins need to be unfolded (denatured) before digestive enzymes can cleave them into individual amino acids to be absorbed in your small intestine.” So the enzymes are digesting the protien. Denaturing unfolds the protien, not destroys it.

        • Most enzymes are proteins, so everything Chris said about proteins refers to enzymes as well. Enzymes only work when they are in their proper 3D folded shape, which means that denaturing via heat or acid does stop them working. Since by definition, enzymes need to be able to function as catalysts, unfolding them destroys them.

          • It is the enzymes in our gut that we really need. Enzymes in our food are proteins and would be denatured by cooking (any form of heat) and then broken down into polypeptides in our gut by our own enzymes. Few external enzymes would work in our gut because most would be broken down.

  43. Chris Kresser,

    I appreciate your work and that it’s often the most scientific and fact based paleo advice on the web. It must be incredibly difficult catering to an audience that by and large is distrustful of science and would rather prove their point by linking to youtube videos and natural news websites and talking about the anecdotes they’ve experienced versus relying on controlled and repeatable experiments.

    Keep up the good work!

  44. I am very disappointed in this article as it is not thoroughly researched. There are many studies showing the negative effects of microwaves on food and on the people who eat it. Our whole family became sick from the microwave radiation from our “smart home” system in the form of cordless phones and wifi (same frequency as your oven but lower intensity). We are all essentially being microwaved at a lower intensity but a longer duration now with wifi, cell phones, cell towers and smart meters and there are literally thousands of studies showing adverse biological effects (damage to DNA, stress protein production, infertility, cancer, nervous system and hormonal disruption, micro biome changes, etc.) Our family became very sick from it over a period of 4 years. All of our symptoms cleared up when we drastically reduced our exposure but now all 5 of us are sensitive and are unwell in wifi environments (try staying away from wifi and cell phones for a challenge!) and are unable to use cell phones. This is a growing problem around the world and children are especially vulnerable. The Bioinitiative Report (bioinitiative.org) is a good place to start to learn more. Chris – so many people trust you, you could really help people by raising awareness of this growing issue. Never before has any group of people been exposed to cradle to grave microwave radiation at these levels. Microwave radiation will be the next tobacco and asbestos combined and this generation of children will be the worst hit victims. Also look at the documentaries: “Mobilize”, “Take Back your Power”, “Microwaves, Science and Lies” and “Generation Zapped” (this on is being made now.

    • Michele,

      You say ‘many studies’ – I challenge you to name just one well done study by a reputable group which supports anyof your claims. I’ve never found one, and I have looked.

      I’ve found lots of hocus-pocus masquerading as scientific studies, but it takes very little digging, or simply a knowledge of high-school physics, to see them for what they are: garbage.

      Modern society subjects us to many things which we did not evolve to handle – microwaves is one, but there are many others (AM radio stations have been around about 90 years now – they also emit electromagnetic radiation; oh, let’s not forget moving at velocities exceeding 4 mph for extended periods – if you’re looking for bug-a-boos to explain health issues, I’m sure some nutcase out there will come up with a psuedo-scientific explanation of why moving faster than natural speeds affects our health. Time to ban all travel faster than a rapid walk.)

      I think a much more likely cause than microwaves for many modern health issues is the human-made chemical soup of a zillion different kinds of molecules in which we all now live. Most of these chemicals our bodies simply are not equipped to deal with or even detect, and have no way of defending against (and, I might add, which we have no way of avoiding even if we want to).

      The fact that you would claim your whole family became sick from microwaves, when there are no reputable studies of any effects in any humans, makes me think you should be looking at environmental factors other than microwaves. Did you all really get better by shutting off microwave sources, or was it a placebo effect because you’re so convinced that is the culprit?

      Sorry for the skepticism, but such broad claims just don’t stand up to critical examination. If microwaves were so bad, people would be dropping like flies given the number of cell phones in use (and the field strengths of a phone pressed against the ear far, far exceeds the leakage from a microwave oven).

      (That’s not to say that long-term exposure to higher energy microwave fields may not be found to be a problem – the jury is still out on that. The jury, in this case, possibly being the 1 billion people with phones glued to their heads. But we’re up to 10-15 years of use without any uptick in health issues related to cell phone use – the jury may come back with an innocent verdict even for microwaving your right ear for hours.)

      Finally, your comment about microwaves being the next tobacco and asbestos combined borders on silly – there are very clear causal pathways from tobacco and asbestos to ill health (see my concerns about chemical soup above); no such pathways have been found, or even conjectured by concerning microwaves (outside the pseudo-science circles).

      • Did you look at the studies in the Bioinitiative Report? Do you really think they are not credible sources? They are all peer reviewed and most importantly, independent, not industry funded. There are more than 10,000 studies by independent scientists showing adverse biological effects from this type of radiation and absolutely NO studies proving they are safe.

        We are bio-electric beings and unlike am or fm radios, cell phones, wifi routers and cell towers are 2 way microwaveradios, constantly sending and receiving information with pulse modulated information carrying microwaves.

        We do not have fm radio antennas broadcasting in our homes or hold fm radio antennas next to our heads all day long but we have wifi in our houses and cell phones next to our heads and our children are in classrooms all day with iPads and wifi routers, using cell phones, gaming, and living in homes with wifi. This is a dangerous human experiment and our family is just the canary in the mine.

        We searched for every environmental cause for the issues to our health and finally had a very experienced building biologist fly in from California and his testing showed that the only environmental issue in the home was the high levels of radiation coming from the smart home system controlling security, audio and video, lighting, heating etc that operated with wifi and cordless phones. When we removed that radiation our symptoms went away. Since then, I have met many people whose strange symptoms have cleared up once they dialed down the wireless.

        You must do your own research and not rely on false claims from an industry that is hiding even its own results. Read “Disconnect” by Devra Davis. Her website is http://ehtrust.org. She is one of the epidemiologists that helped to bring down big tobacco. She explains how the communications industry is using the same tactics to keep us in the dark as the tobacco industry once did.

        The DNA in our cells recognizes electromagnetic fields at the lowest levels of exposure and produces a biochemical stress response activating heat shock proteins that increase free radicals, resulting in a whole slew of inflammatory and unhealthy conditions.

        There have been many documented health effects from mobile phones, especially brain cancer. See Lennart Hardell’s work. His conclusions that certain brain cancers increased 200-300 % with over 1000 hours of life time use (500% if use started before the age of 20) were consistent with findings of the industry funded Interphone Study. However the authors of the Interphone Study rejected their own findings saying that this level of cell phone use (about 1/2 an hour per day) was “implausible.” Does anyone only use their cell phone for 1/2 an hour per day?

        Although those results can be found by reading the whole report, they did not appear in the conclusion and were not reported in the press.

        It is really important to look at all of the independent research and not rely on the main stream media which is not properly reporting it or even the WHO which has huge conflicts of interest. The New York Times is 17% owned by a telecommunications company and receives lots of advertising from it too.

        Here is a link to a California Medical Association Resolution calling for a Wireless Standards Reevaluation.
        http://www.parentsforsafetechnology.org/california-medical-association-resolution-on-wireless.html

        Read the references. If the CMA, thinks they are credible, maybe you will too.

        But don’t take my word for it, do your own experiment. Sleep with a wifi router, a cordless phone and your iPhone in your bedroom. Work on a laptop, use your cell phone, get an Apple watch and be sure to live near a cell tower. Also keep using that cell phone and blue tooth in the car. See how you feel in a few years. You will first become extremely irritable (maybe you have already judging by the tone of your message!), and get strange problems like sinus issues, allergies or digestive stuff. Your sleep will be affected. Then your cognition will start to go. You will have a hard time focusing and remembering. You may get vertigo, ringing in the ears or be dehydrated all the time. Then you may get heart problems, an autoimmune disorder or cancer. Maybe you will get chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Hope you aren’t trying to have kids by then because that may be tricky. Your sperm count will be low and your wife’s eggs will have genetic damage and a hardened outer shell. You will treat all of the symptoms and not have any idea they are all related unless you become electrically sensitive and can actually feel the radiation like many people do now. Then your cell phone will make your hand burn and give you a head ache and you may feel nauseous or get heart palpitations in front of your computer. By then it is very hard to come back from it. Let us know how it goes.

        Prove this stuff is safe for us. The burden of proof should be on those claiming it is safe and who are forcing it on everyone, especially our children.

        Here is another good website. http://www.c4st.org

  45. I am not sure about all of the studies but I know what the microwave did to my gut. I got to feeling like something was gnawing at my gut after drinking tea made with a microwave so I stopped doing that and all bad feelings went away and I have not used one for at least 30 years now. Mel

  46. Chris and/or bloggers-
    I use those plug in the wall devices and wristbands that are sold, purported to block harmful EMF’s (from the variety of sources we’ve all cited).
    Are those at all effective?…Any studies on them?

  47. I don’t own a microwave because I do not like the ever-present heat/cold spots in my food. I like my electric stove because I can put on a pan, on the low setting, and whatever is inside will be perfectly ready in 15 to 20 minutes, never too hot or overcooked. For vegetables, there simply is no better way to prepare them, than by steaming, which releases so much flavor, I never have to use condiments, which are all nothing more than empty calories that our bodies are better off without. Perhaps my greatest aversion to microwaving my food is the necessity for plastics, which I do not even allow in my home anymore.

  48. I am so grateful for this article! Thank you Chris! I have been struggling with avoiding the microwave due to fearing its effects on food but I so miss the convenience of reheating items. Now I am going to microwave without fear. Thanks again.

  49. Wondering about what things are used to cook in inside a microwave. IE if we use glass that is leaded, does the led go into the food? If we use plastic microwavable materials, do PCBs find their way into the food we eat? What are the dangers here?

    • You are not likely to find PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in your plastic containers to begin with. But it’s best not to heat food in ANY plastic containers by ANY means. Use glass, ceramic, paper, etc.

  50. Thanks for this perspective on microwaves. Do you have any research on induction cooktops which are both seen by some as a great eco option and others who demonize them for their electromagnetic properties?

  51. I have never owned a microwave in my entire life, haven’t used one for more than 7 years, and will likely never buy one. Not even after I read this article, not that I don’t agree with what it says, just found it unnecessary.

  52. Thank you for this. A couple of comments to add:

    1) It’s never a good idea to heat foods in plastic containers by any cooking method. It’s not because of microwave radiation, specifically, but because heat from any source can cause chemicals in plastics to leach out. This could include blending your hot “bulletproof” coffee in a plastic Vitamix, for example. (Disclosure: I do have a petition on Change.org asking Vitamix to offer a plastic-free alternative.)

    2) I’m more concerned about the toxic indoor air pollution from my gas stove than the tiny bit of radiation from my microwave.

    3) Microwave ovens are much more energy efficient than conventional stoves since they cook so quickly and only heat the actual food, not the surrounding air. So we’re saving fossil fuels.

    4) You can save resources and energy further by acquiring a “new” one second hand. When our old one died, we replaced it for $10 from someone on Craigslist.

    5) All that said, I don’t like the texture of many foods cooked in the microwave, so, like others, I only use it for quick reheating.

    • I think you are quite right in being concerned about your gas stove. We moved from a home with gas to one with halogen heating elements. Immediately saw a reduction in colds and respiratory symptoms family wide. For that reason even though we are pretty serious about cooking we will not go back to gas.
      (The kitchen is also much freer of the oily deposit gas leaves on surfaces–even with good venting.)

  53. Chris, can you point us to any long-term (i.e., 20 to 30 years) studies looking specifically at the microwave and carcinogen factor? Microwaves have been out long enough that there should be some longer-term data available. For instance, is there any association between cancer and daily microwave use after 5, 10, 15 years? While short-term studies are valuable regarding nutrient density of microwaved foods, it’s the long-term habits — using a microwave to heat and cook food every single day — that can have far-reaching health consequences. Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t necessarily trust cancer research even if it’s available. We all know how skewed “science based medicine” can be. Chris has written about this. Industry profits rule over health.

    • The problem is that any research that would show higher disease rates in microwave users would be simply an epidemiological study. This means that all the “health nuts” who stayed away from microwaves would have better health outcomes “proving” that microwaving food is harmful. The problem is that this is useless data — all it shows is that people that believed microwaves were harmful were the same people that believed getting plenty of exercise, eating right, avoiding drugs and living a low stress life is healthy. How can one possibly run a double blind placebo test for microwaved foods over 20-30 years (or where would the funds come from?).

      • +1
        I’d guess that after controlling for the type of food people are heating in the microwave (ready-made frozen franken-food?), container type (plastic leaching), and the various healthy user effects you mentioned, any association between microwaves and ill health would disappear. Many older cooking methods are actually demonstratively worse for our health (typically respiratory).

  54. Well reading all these comments, I guess I’m a minority here, using the microwave a LOT. Not to cook or defrost meat or anything bready (yes, my non-paleo hub eats gluten), but regularly for cooking veggies, buckwheat, or a quick reheat of something like that or liquid. Sometimes to temper chocolate or melt butter. It’s partly because it’s faster and more convenient than conventional and also laziness because clean-up is so much easier.

    So I guess I’m going to glow in the dark some day. We are also being radiated every day in the sunshine and wind stream of Japan and more so if we eat pacific seafood, which I do too. I’m not saying that I don’t care about radiation levels, I very much do, but I think Chris makes an excellent point that our exposure to tech gadgets like cell phones, wireless phones, etc and the unescapable polluted natural environment are even more concerning.

    But based on Chris’ excellent article, I am going to make a point of staying farther away from the Mwave while it’s running. Thank you Chris!

    • Susan, perhaps you were only joking, but you seem to be confusing non-ionizing radio-frequency (microwave) radiation with ionizing radiation (radioactivity, such as from uranium and the like.) They are two completely different things.

      A microwave oven does not make food radioactive. Nor do microwaves cause chemical changes to food, other than as a by-product of heating, which may occur during any form of cooking.

  55. People often place paper and plastics into the microwave: paper towels, paper plates, plastic wrapping/packages, plastic forks, coffee Styrofoam cups, etc. Chemicals and BPA are leached.

    I’ve read many accounts of carcinogens forming from microwaving foods. There is plenty of Russian and German research of microwave cooking back in the old days. Have you seen those studies? I think I’d trust old studies more than new ones.

    • Cooking on the stove, in the oven, or over a fire also produces carcinogens. It’s likely that whichever method causes the least browning has the least carcinogens.

  56. You’re not the only freak left to not use a microwave, Chris. I have refused to have one in my house or eat/drink anything prepared in one EVER. Yes, friends do think i’m a nut, but for me personally and MY health, some things are just intuitively wrong.

    • I agree. It’s funny, I recently said that even if my most respected health experts like Chris Kresser say it’s ok to use a microwave, I’m still not going to. That’s just me. Why risk it? When I got rid of our microwave my family hardly complained at all. They trust my judgement of erring on the safe side.

  57. Chris – Thanks again for cutting through the bunk and hyperbole that is too rampant on the web, and especially amongst health seekers.

  58. This is THE best, most comp. article on its use I’ve seen.

    ONE MORE QUESTION, CHRIS: Does the age of the microwave affect the amount of radiation exposure…Has leakage been tested to see if it increases over time/use of the appliance??
    Thanks! Galia

    • The microwaves are stopped by the metal that the oven is constructed from (the wavelength is such that it does not penetrate the holes in the metal used for the window). So I can’t see how it could ever change over time (it’s not like ionising radiation, so it doesn’t make anything radioactive).

  59. Very good article – thanks, Chris. I appreciate your comments and cited research on the amount of radiation emitted by the microwaves and how they affect nutrients in foods.
    What about the effect of microwaving foods in plastic containers, which is a common practice? Can this be a possible and dangerous source of toxins over the conventional cooking methods?

    • But 13 months is about 1/3 to 1/2 of a domestic rat’s life span (based on a quick Google search). Rats live about 2-3 years, give or take, according to most sites. A UK study found the average to be 21.6 months. So it’s a bit different than doing a 13 month study on humans.

    • Thank you for posting this. While I think that it is great that Chris clears up some misconceptions and that it is always better to be better educated on issues, my gut feeling is more inline with the video you posted. Energetically, cooking your food in the microwave seems lower vibrational and like the man said, violent, so why would someone want to put this energy into their food?

  60. Electromagnetic radiation aside, the effects of heating by microwaves on water molecules are much different than that of conventional heat transfer (ovens, convection or otherwise, stove top, etc.) The temperatures that can be achieved when heating water as steam are much higher than with liquid. Superheated steam can reach temperatures of up to 910 degrees F. Any steam from evaporated water trapped within the food heated in a microwave can reach much higher temperatures than normal cooking in an oven or in a pot on the stove. The chemical alterations of hydrocarbons and proteins at elevated temperatures are a health issue. Something to consider over exposure to microwave energy. The radiation leakage is still a significant issue but knowing the physics and electrical engineering behind the device, I would lean toward the effects of superheated steam over some of the other issues.

    • You are not likely to find PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in your plastic containers to begin with. But it’s best not to heat food in ANY plastic containers by ANY means. Use glass, ceramic, paper, etc.

    • Superheated steam can get hotter than that, but only under high pressure. At atmospheric pressure, water boils at 212F (with very slight variations based on elevation above sea level). If you want to superheat it, you have to contain it under pressure. Your microwave is not a pressure vessel.

  61. The notion that the microwaves do no leak out of the microwave is just that, a notion. I got a radiation detector to measure the safety of my cell phone. I was shocked when it picked up radiation from the microwave while sitting on the kitchen table. When I called the mfg they sent out a technician who informed me that contrary to what people think they don’t even have seals on the doors anymore. Built in microwaves have no side panels. They leak radiation all around the unit. You can rely on the FDA or you can step far away from your microwave, like the next room.

    • It’s not a notion, it has been studied extensively in the scientific literature. I reported on those studies here.

      • I believed in that notion until a fluke forced me to check it out for my self. I believed that manufacturers would not manufacture something that leaked. I don’t know what to tell you about your research, but if you look at a new microwave there is no mesh in the door and no magnetic seal around the door. I was told by the technician that my microwave was not defective, and that all new microwaves are manufactured in the same manner. I purchased better meters and got the same results. I was told that the FDA does not recognize it to be harmful so precautions are no longer taken during manufacturing. You have provided research, but have you actually checked your own microwave for yourself. In some kitchens it is not possible to step away from its while its cooking.

      • One of the studies you have quoted, “The Impact of Cell Phone, Laptop Computer, and Microwave Oven Usage on Male Fertility” says that it is still controversial and goes not to state, “Current literature on EMW radiation effects on male reproductive health remains controversial with mixed and inconclusive data… Given the safety of EMWs remains undefined, further studies are necessary to clarify this potentially important public health issue and possible cause of unexplained male infertility.”

        • My chemistry professor told us following story: As an intern he was working in nuclear reactor. They have monitors on the clothes and his came high and they did not know why, because others around him were fine. So they followed him around. He went outside during lunch break—aka on the sun–which triggered alert. Radiation is everywhere. I would like to ask about the molecules of water that gets excited which produces heat. Since we are made out of the water mostly–this can affect our system in long run, but that would have to be very long study and someone in cafeteria who heats up food for many people.:)

  62. I no longer use one, either, but not due to fears about how it cooks – I researched the ovens when they first came out and came to the conclusion that if used thoughtfully, they shouldn’t pose any more risk than a pressure cooker. And the wave amplitude is easily and adequately stopped by the screens, so I went with it and at one point, a microwave and a toaster oven were my only cooking options.

    However, I do find that between the tendency to over cook since everything happens so fast (I seem to be the only one I know who lets food rest to finish cooking), the temptation to use preprocessed foods that are so easy and quick and available for the microwave, and just the additional space one would require in my already cramped kitchen, I am choosing not to even consider adding one back into my life. Instead, I am working on actually planning ahead to make sure I still can make meals relatively quickly and easily, but using minimally preprocessed foods. It’s honestly been a bigger adjustment than I’d anticipated, mentally – speaking, but I am finding after some months (I recently moved and so was able to go fully microwave free) that I am getting into the swing of it and am able to get better ingredients for my food budget and am naturally including more fruits and vegetables, if for no other reason than they are quicker to prepare than things like grains (especially since I have been trying to properly presoak/sprout them first! – the mostly non GMO grains)

    I use my slow cooker more and tend to combine a sort of quick saute and steam on the stove top as my primary cooking methods these days. I already own, but have yet to try a countertop halogen oven.

    Nice to see this topic handled rationally and with independent thinking;thank you.

  63. I would not assume that Federal safety standards are safe….they are always influenced more by money than by science….to equate the safety of microwave oven RF emissions to cell phone standards is doing no one any favor…. RF from cell phones and wifi is hazardous at levels way below govt. “safety” thresholds according to scientists not on the wireless industry’s payroll….

  64. Thank you for this article! A great investigation into how something “scientific” can be made to sound scary and harmful, but is not always the case. I so appreciate you delving into all aspects of proposed potential harms caused too. We don’t use our microwave very often, but as you said, if it’s the difference between getting a nutritional meal vs eating an undesirable (but easy) choice… than it can be a great option! As always, love your balanced perspective, thank you!

  65. Good information! I do not use a microwave because of the overheating of certain part of the food. Some parts will be dessicated and other left rather warm than hot. Then loss of nutrient availability and / or changes to the chemical nature of some foods may be altered and become hurtful.

  66. I stopped using my microwave on a regular basis when I was bedridden and had Leaky Gut 2 years ago. I was nutrient deficient and didn’t want to take the chance that my food would lose the nutrients that my body desperately needed.

    Well, I’m better now, and I haven’t touched my microwave – except to heat filtered water for my cleaning products – in a little over a year.

    I tend to trust the research you do, but I’ve adapted so well to heating my food in other ways that I’ll continue to skip the microwave. Just like you said, I don’t care for the texture that the microwave gives the food. It completely destroys the quality, and my food is too valuable and delicious to “destroy” it. 🙂

  67. I have an ‘infrawave’ oven that I use a lot for cooking. Does anyone have any idea how safe they are? Instruction book says it uses ‘specific wavelengths in the electromagnetic field’.

  68. When my last microwave died I didn’t replace it. Bought a tea kettle. I use a pressure cooker. Didn’t miss the microwave at all. In fact, I really disliked the noise the thing made. Life is better without it.

    • Our family bought our first and last microwave oven in 1995. If you notice, when reheating bakery items they become rubbery, also do steamed vegetables. I just used the good old fashioned skillet, pot, steamer, etc to reheat. I just believe it the holistic life. All around, technology is ever more increasingly exposing us to EMRs so this is my way of keeping it level.

  69. Interesting idea, but I still choose not to have a microwave. And I have heard that cell phones are causing deep concerns and have not been well studied. One study I heard about which showed cell phones were causing brain cancer in primates after just 30 days was pulled. Even if microwaves end up truly being safe, I don’t like what they do to the texture of food. But thank you for approaching this topic and getting us to try to open our minds. It is nice to know others who use microwaves may be justified in doing so. I had thought I heard years ago that infants received formula heated in a microwave were getting leukemia. I don’t know the source of that tidbit though. Thanks Chris.

  70. Excellent, thank you! I look to you for thoughtful, reasoned articles with clickable citations. This helps ease my mind on microwaving (I use them primarily to gently re-heat certain foods and heat up my 96 year old father’s bean bag shoulder warming pads).

    Since you mentioned phone radiation, PLEASE PLEASE publish an article very soon on cell phone radiation. I’ve been stupid and accidently fallen asleep with mine many times, walk around with mine 12-14 hours a day, and only recently realized just how dumb I’ve been. I need to figure out how to minimize exposure and immediately do smart things like get a REAL alarm clock and keep it on the other side of the room at night. So I’m very anxious to read an article by you about cell phone radiation risks, safety precautions and maybe even what to do if you think you’ve over-exposed yourself…

    Thank you again!

  71. I’m sending this article to the Food Babe, who thinks microwaves are mini nuclear reactors.

    One more note on microwaves: I’ve been heating up wet cat food with probiotics in it, and the microwave neither destroys the food NOR the probiotics.

    • I have had frequent bouts of many very small ants who sometimes wind up inside my microwave.

      When they were inside and I was heating water for tea, they were still moving when it finished, about 60 seconds later on.

      Looks like Chris has some very good points.

  72. Great article Chris! Keep um’ coming. I really enjoy your analytical approach to these types of debated topics.

  73. I am not convinced by this article. I have seen plenty of research that indicates the opposite. I have no intention of using a microwave and continue to counsel my patients likewise. Some of the points in the comments are well taken, specifically about containers and which foods are used in the first place. Not to mention, that food cooked in the microwave tastes and looks terrible. Stovetop and/or oven is the way to go in my opinion.

  74. Good article! I always wondered about nutrient loss and thought the opposite of what you said. Glad you cleared that up. Thanks

  75. It’s basically an inside out Faraday cage. I unplugged it and stuck my laptop in there when I heard we were getting a solar flare. Just in case. It is totally safe. It’s not going to “leak radiation” out and give you cancer. LOL people are paranoid.

  76. Is it true or hype that the nazi’s invented microwaves but then scrapped them because of the effects that they had on the soldiers. I have heard this story similarly with Russians substituted for Nazi’s. Still this story is a shocker to my puritanic long held health values.

    • I know that back in the 70’s microwaves were banned in the USSR because of their negative effects on health.

    • There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Soviets banned microwave ovens in 1976 or any other time, there certainly wasn’t a law passed. Various debunkers have asked Russian lawyers to find the law or the law repealing it. Every single quote on the internet has the same source – ultimately Bill Kopp’s article that was incorporated in Wayne and Newell’s articles then quaoted in Mercola.com.

      Likewise, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Nazis invented MW ovens and lots against it, not least of which is that microwaves are very useful for radar yet the Germans never produced centimetric radar (the British did as they had developed the cavity magnetron, but they did not develop the MW oven).

      However what better conspiracy that to say that one evil empire invented a process that another evil empire had to ban yet we do nothing. One couldn’t fudge it any better!!

  77. A simple test you can use is to heat water in a microwave oven, then let it cool to room temperature. Get two plants that are just alike and feed one water from your tap and the other one from the prior microwave heated water. The one that is fed the microwave waved water WILL DIE!

    • That is ridiculous. If you really want to run this as an experiment, you need far more than one plant in each watering group. If you only have two plants, one of them could die from just about anything. You need a significant number of subjects to show any kind of association. Then someone else needs to replicate your experiment. After that, you may say you have some compelling evidence. Reminds me of the cute child in the video who grew sweet potatoes (or something). Talk about bad science.

      • Plus you’d need a group that is getting water that had been heated conventionally and then cooled, just to control the other variables. Otherwise you don’t know if heating and cooling the water is the problem (if there is one) or if it was the microwave.

    • Have you done this experiment or merely read it on the internet?

      My son did this for his high school science project and found no difference. Subsequently I became a judge at the science fair and have seen several repeats of the experiment all with the same results, i.e. no significant difference.

      Over several hundred plants and half a dozen different student studies and the results are consistently the same. No significant difference.

      I wonder where your results come from and please don’t quote the EUTimes / Arielle Renolds’ daughter or somebody’s granddaughter. That was found to be faked years ago.

  78. Great article,

    I would like to see you weigh in on other forms of electronic radiation, such as Bluetooth devices, cell phones, wireless internet etc…

    • Don’t forget the effect of ordinary, every-day electromagnetic radiation exposure from electricity — all your appliances, your alarm clock, vacuum cleaner, blender, toaster, lamps, everything that runs on household AC current. Get the electricity away from your bed.

    • Yes…please Chris follow up with article re wi fi in the home, use of cell phones, living near cell towers etc.

  79. I think one of the big questions is what container you are microwaving in- if it is plastic there is probably the risk of chemicals leaching into the food from the microwave heating- I wonder if there are any studies on that?

    If reheating food that was stored in a plastic container I try to put in a regular bowl or plate before microwaving.

    I also agree with the commenter above- most microwaveable ready foods are complete crap and will probably cause more harm than the radiation leaking out of the microwave.

    • Plastic is actually inert. The danger lies in the chemicals used to join the c ‘ s h ‘ s etc. the residues that remain behind despite rinsing processes after manufacturing. Cooking in plastic is very bad. Also, storing liquids in plastic–like water, milk, etc–very bad.

  80. I’ve heard that microwaving food destroys the “life-force” of foods, which isn’t destroyed by conventional heating methods. Do you know of any studies in regard to this?

    • I’m not sure what people mean when they refer to the “life force” of a food, so it’s hard to address this. However, if they are talking about protein structure, I did mention this in the article. If they are talking about enzymes, then yes, microwaving would destroy some of the enzymes—but so do all forms of cooking/heating above a certain temperature. And despite the claims of raw food advocates, cooking food often improves our ability to absorb and process it. Anthropologists believe that consuming cooked food was a significant factor in our evolution.

    • I think killing food also destroys the “life-force” of it. From now on why don’t you try eating nothing but living animals. You can’t eat any more plants because they are dead too. Well i suppose you could still eat potted plants with the soil, roots and all to keep it alive as long as possible.

  81. I always re-heat my leftovers in bain-marie or in a standard oven. Very rarely I use the microwave and it is uniquely at workplace, where I just don’t have the choice. Even in these cases I keep the power to low and heat until just warm, not at maximum power to steaming so I don’t have to wait until it cools down.

    Apart this, I find the microwave extremely useful to heat water to prepare a tea (no nutrients to destroy in plain water), or to sterilize a cloth before straining yoghurt 😉

    My 2 cents.

    • I believe this is the best part of this. My wife’s parents want their food steaming hot and so my wife tends to want to do the same with the microwave. It has been my opinion for a long time that heat is the enemy. I reheat until it is warm. It makes absolutely no sense to reheat the food where you have to let it cool or burn your mouth.

    • Its actually the temperature reached that causes sterilization. This can be accomplished through any means of heat.

      • Thank you! I couldn’t remember the right term (I discovered a TIA can muck with things like language recall 🙁 )

        • Don’t worry about it Elissa. There are plenty of people out there saying that microwaves sterilize cleaning cloths and sponges, who don’t have your excuse for using the wrong word. I’ve probably said it myself a time or two.

  82. Some years ago I met a woman who said that when she ate microwaved food her white blood cell count went down … Anyone else come across that?

  83. After receiving emails showing pictures of how microwaved water “killed” plants, I decided to conduct my own experiment. 15 students were each given 2 lots of seedlings of the same species and age. One lot was watered with water that had been boiled in a kettle and cooled; the other lot with water boiled in a microwave and cooled. After several weeks, there was no appreciable difference in height or colour in the 2 lots of seedlings for all but one of the students, where the seedlings watered with microwaved water was slightly taller. After seeing these results, I decided to continue using my microwave.

  84. Thank you Chris,
    So informative. I have been wondering about the truth on MWAVES for ages. This helps clarify the info so well. Now I can make an informed choice when re heating for my loved ones & our pets.

  85. From a Weston Price article:
    ‘According to a letter published in The Lancet, the common practice of microwaving converts l-proline to d-proline. They write, “The conversion of trans to cis forms could be hazardous because when cis-amino acids are incorporated into peptides and proteins instead of their trans isomers, this can lead to structural, functional and immunological changes.” They further note that “d-proline is neurotoxic and we have reported nephrotoxic and heptatotoxic effects of this compound.” In other words, the gelatin in homemade broth confers wonderous benefits, but if you heat it in the microwave, it becomes toxic to the liver, kidneys and nervous system.’
    That would be this study:
    LUBEC, G. ET AL. (1989): AMINOACID ISOMERISATION AND MICROWAVE EXPOSURE. – THE LANCET, 9: 1392-93
    Maybe it is similar to comparing manufactured msg to naturally occurring msg. A lot of people react to added msg but not msg in say, tomatoes. Same with cysteine and some others. I react to broth anyway – it has an excitotoxic effect on my brain.
    I have always gotten a gut ache from food cooked in a microwave. They say that microwaved food can affect people for months after eating it. I used to get MORA tested, and during that time, the one time I ate microwaved food it showed up weeks later in testing as causing stress on my body. No, I did not mention to the person doing the testing that I had eaten any.
    A study that found that microwaves denature food more than thermally heating:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18240290
    A friend had a microwave oven that I could feel metres away – it was a bit old though so maybe the door didn’t close as well as it should. I’ve electrical hypersensitivity and react worst to mobile (cell phone) radiation. Microwave transmitters have a spacing out, dumbing down effect on me too.
    What about the Swiss study that found hemoglobin etc was affected by eating microwaved food? The study is in here:
    http://www.naturalscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/wfns_special-report_microwave_02-02_english.pdf

    • I’m confused by a couple of things that you posted. I’m not sure what “conversion of trans to cis forms” and “converting “l-proline to d-proline” have to do with each other. Maybe if I read the article it would make more sense, but I can’t find it, and you didn’t link to it.

      I’m not sure I get your point about microwaving denaturing food more than thermal heating. You seem to consider this a bad thing. However, as Chris’ article says, proteins have to be denatured our digestive enzymes can do their thing. Seems to me that more denaturing would be a good thing.

  86. I’m with you Chris……………I must be the other person in the world not using a microwave. I have managed really well without one for years and really don’t see the need for yet another gadget.

    • i haven’t used a microwave since 2003. I don’t like what they do to the food. I also read somewhere once that they were designed by the Wermacht during the Second World War for use in panzer divisions during the assault upon Russia but they were deemed as to be of no use as they destroyed the nutrients in the food. Cannot remember my source but it may or may not be true.

  87. Fantastic article! I like that you emphasise that if the alternative is junk food or calorie dense nutrient deficient substitute microwaved meat and vegies is a brilliant alternative.

  88. In the earliest days of microwave ovens, interlock switches were often not used in the commercial microwave ovens used in restaurants. Frequently, the doors would be removed from these ovens and they would be operated continuously allowing cooks to place and remove food quickly from within the ovens.. Of course, the cooks’ hands would be exposed to the full microwave field for a few seconds. In general, this did little harm other than raise the internal temperature of the hands a degree or two. However, when the ovens were mounted close to eye level, the cooks often developed cataracts. This was due to the fact that the cornea of the eyes has a very limited ability to dissipate excess heat (unlike the hands which have good blood circulation).

    By the way, most wireless computer routers share the same frequency bands as microwave ovens.

  89. So when I heat liquid to dissolve gelatin, I’m isomerizing the L-amino acids in the gelatin to D-amino acids, and cannot assimilate these well, possibly causing harm. So I probably shouldn’t use gelatin in heated liquids.

  90. Is this sentence correct? “Our bodies almost exclusively use the L- form of amino acids, but pH changes and heat can cause amino acids in food to isomerize to the L- forms, which can’t be efficiently digested or utilized by our body.” I think you mean food can be isomerized into the D-form.

    And thank you for debunking the microwave fears. My friends routinely give me the silliest arguments for why they don’t use microwaves. This is a well thought out response I can send to them.

  91. If the labels on my microwave oven are representative of what most people use theirs for – pizza, chicken nuggets, “hand-held snacks”, “frozen kid’s meals” (whatever these might be), and hot dogs – I would say it’s the type of food that is more likely to be dangerous than the action of using the microwave oven.

  92. When reheating frozen leftovers, is it better to err on the side of overheating (to ensure the temperature goes above 165 °F) or on the side of underheating (to miminize isomerization and/or amine formation)?

  93. One factor that you may not have taken into account is the possibility that older microwaves’ doors stop closing as well and begin to release much higher EMF radiation than when they were new. Dr. Jack Kruse in several of his podcasts (such as with Beverly Meyer, titled “Jack Kruse on EMF’s a few years back) says that he has tested older microwaves and has noticed that after several months the amount of radiation released increases dramatically. I have no idea if any studies have been done to back up his claims but if it is, in fact, true that microwaves release dangerous amounts of radiation after several months, because industry doesn’t care to make the doors durable (after all, all the studies were probably done on new microwave ovens), then many people could be at risk. But again, I’m open to being corrected as I realize I have no evidence to back up Dr. Jack Kruse’s claim.

    • My dad purchase one of the first microwaves from Litton Industries years and years ago. About a year later purchased a Gauss meter (which I wish I had today). Yes, the doors leak. He took the door apart and re-insulated it, and later purchased a new microwave. Again, took door apart and re-insulated it. Seems every 2 or 3 years, he would purchase a new unit. This is precisely why I do not own one of these – it is invisible and you have no idea what’s going on unless you purchase a meter and test for yourself.

      • Uh oh. I still have the old Litton microwave my dad bought when they first came out. Yes, I have a microwave from 1971. I don’t use it very often as I prefer to heat things on the stove, etc., but about once every 6 months or so I plug it in and use it for something – standing away from it when it’s in use.

        Do you know how your dad re-insulated the door?

    • That’s also why they recommend not being close to one with a pacemaker! But honestly, we are surrounded by all sorts of radiation, natural and man made, and being close to or in constant exposure to any of them is definitely affecting us, even on a cellular level. IIRC, our best guess as to why life arose from the primordial ooze is due to the effects of exposure to certain frequencies of radiation – so it is a fact of our form that we’re susceptible. With any source of radiated energy, a little distance is always a good idea. And eating well is, in my opinion and understanding, one of the best ways to counter the effects. However, as with anything else to which we are over-exposed, there are some folks whose bodies simply cannot handle it anymore and so it is important to be aware of how one feels around such devices and situations and adjust accordingly.

      I am one who cannot handle all the concentrated chemicals and have had to make major adjustments for that, so I totally get the concerns, but also caution against being overly worried as I strongly suspect more folks suffer from the stresses caused by being afraid of things than by the actual effects, if that makes sense.

      • Amen Elissa! There’s too much stressing over little things which certainly isn’t healthy. Let’s not sweat the small stuff.

        • Ditto, Laurel and Elissa! I’m convinced that my body’s biggest enemy is stress/worry/strife/anxiety, and less so the evil toxins and exposures lurking everywhere.

          (Remember the longevity study with the WWI (or was it WWII) soldiers who smoked and were anxiety-free vs the ones who didn’t smoke and were high anxiety and which group lived longer?…you can just guess! Of course, I’m ardently anti-smoking, and a healthy life is as important than a long one it, but there’s still a lesson to be learned there!)

          “Don’t worry, be happy” is a simple, but also deeply meaningful, song and mantra!

      • Extremely well put, Elissa! Thank you. I am in that same boat, with both the sensitivities as well as trying not to fear too much because I do suspect that is the majority of potential harm to health. It does seem the best advice to counteract is to be moderately well informed, moderately cautious, eat as clean and healthy as possible, and not worry too much.

      • Elissa — I agree with you. We should certainly inform ourselves, but there is a point where it becomes harmful to stress so much about minor things. It’s telling that the new eating disorder term “orthorexia” has been coined (witness many of the commenters on this article).

        Do the best you can, and then enjoy your life. I suspect that no dying person has ever said, “I wish I spent more time on the internet reading health articles”!

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