Is my microwave oven harming me?

I’m a frequent user of my microwave oven, I use it for soups to meats to anything. But lately, I heard that microwaved food can cause brain cell depletion… is this true?
I’ve read up on several sites that seem to verify this.

Why don’t you post links to those sites so we can discuss their claims? Are the results published in peer-reviewed journals?

Personally I have seen no credible evidence or suggesting microwaved food is any more dangerous than the same food heated in any other way.

Here are a few of the sites I’ve visited

So anyone have any idea?

Well, to start with, of course coffee that’s been microwaved never tastes right. That’s because most people use the microwave to reheat cold coffee. Reheated coffee never tastes right, no matter how you reheat it.

And yes, we were warned never to thaw frozen breast milk in a microwave. That’s because it’s damn near impossible to control the temperature, not because it harmed the milk. After three children, my wife and I figured out how to set the microwave in 5-second or less increments and got perfectly acceptable results. Our three children are now in their 20’s, and show no signs of having been given defective breast milk when they were babies.

That’s two, I’ll leave the rest for others.

Your cites lost me after they mentioned the Nazis as inventor of the microwave, that would be news to Dr. Spencer

The bit of the Soviet Union banning the microwave sounds strange, but regarding food the Soviet Union was the last place to look for good information.

There may be issues but so far the evidence presented that Microwaves are dangerous is not compelling.

One of the articles mention the rays being emitted from the microwaves slow down intelligence process and short term memory loss.

any more input on this?

this has me kinda freaked out…

any input would be appreciated

From your first link
" Radiation = spreading energy with electromagnetic waves

Radiation, as defined by physics terminology, is “the electromagnetic waves emitted by the atoms and molecules of a radioactive
substance as a result of nuclear decay.” Radiation causes ionization, which is what occurs when a neutral atom gains or loses electrons. In simpler terms, a microwave oven decays and changes the molecular structure of the food by the process of radiation. "

This is flat out false.
“1. Physics.
a. the process in which energy is emitted as particles or waves.
b. the complete process in which energy is emitted by one body, transmitted through an intervening medium or space, and absorbed by another body.
c. the energy transferred by these processes.”

Radio waves are also electromagnetic radiation. Yet no one claims that they cause ionization. The only difference between your microwave oven and your cell phone is the frequency, the power, and the shielding.
Microwave ovens do not cause food to lose electrons and change its molecular structure.
Here is an excellent explanation of how a microwave oven actually works courtesy of the Canadian Government. You will note the lack of tin foil on their heads.
I’m sorry I can go any further on your “cites” but my brain hurts after reading some of the amazing claims these people are making.

here is more from some real experts

That’s a little misleading. Cooking involves all sorts of chemical reactions which cause structural changes. That’s why you can’t unbake a cake. But a microwave does not do anything chemistry-wise that a regular oven doesn’t do.

I was responding to this
“Radiation causes ionization, which is what occurs when a neutral atom gains or loses electrons.”
I have never seen any description of cooking as being an ionization process.

From my second link above
"Heat imparted to any article from a microwave oven is no different than heat from any other source. "

I’m not even sure where to begin. From the first link:

Actually structural isomerism has nothing to do with deformation of molecules. This is just “proof by obfuscation.”

Nonsense. How the microwave is generated has nothing to do with how it is absorbed.

As Rick explained, this is completely false. Not all radiation causes ionization. And furthermore, ionizing radiation doesn’t create harmful food. Sunlight contains UV which is ionizing radiation (which is why it can cause cancer), yet we eat vegetables after they’ve been exposed to direct sunlight for months.

I haven’t read the article, but if you do a Google search it appears that the research has received some criticism. Also this researcher appears to be rather biased. (Also note the URL of that page - it’s an anti-vaccination site.)

Sorry, that’s all I have time for right now…

Well…yes and no. A conventional oven can heat a lot hotter than a microwave oven, and in doing so, can elicit chemical changes a microwave cannot. But in terms of ‘a conventional oven and microwave oven both only change structure though heat,’ then yeah, they’re the same.

And in any well built microwave (which I’m guessing for modern microwaves is probably nearly all of them. (I’m sure a few might have assembly defects that go unnoticed,)) there is no serious leakage of the microwaves. There is a faraday cage lining the microwave which does not allow electromagnetic waves to pass through.

There are two big groups of people out there. The first group believes that microwaves (which includes microwave ovens and cell phones) are the SPAWN OF SATAN and are going to kill us all. The second group thinks that microwaves are pretty much harmless. The problem is that both of these groups are extremely vocal, and think very passionately that their side is right. You’ll find web sites from both groups that presents a lot of psuedoscience and complete crap as if it were proven scientific fact. Trying to find an unbiased source on the issue is like trying to find a needle in an entire field full of haystacks.

To make things even more confusing, there are a lot of contradictory scientific studies out there. A lot of the studies are plainly biased, but there are a lot of studies out there where the scientists have truly tried to be objective, and sometimes even those studies come up with contradictory results. Now, the proper way to handle this is that you do further studies, follow-ups, etc. and try to sort this all out, but that rarely happens.

A perfect example, though not done by “professional” scientists, is this article on snopes: Microwaved Water -- See What It Does to Plants |
A girl basically took two plants, and use microwaved water on one plant and purified water on the other. The plant watered with microwaved water died a horrible hiddeous death, while the other plant thrived. It’s simple proof that microwaved water is bad, right? Well, on the surface it might seem so, but then snopes did exactly the same test, and got a different result. This is exactly the sort of thing that happens with “real” big budget scientists, too. What always happens is that the first study gets a huge amouht of press, because the results are so shocking. The second study finds nothing, and that’s not news, so no one cares. It’s the first one that gets copied 40 bizillion times around the internet and gets quoted on sites.

We’ve been doing major studies on microwaves and their effects on health ever since the 1980’s, and while once in a while you’ll find a study (quite often by a reputable, unbiased source even) that finds something, like the claim in the OP, the fact remains that the people who think microwaves are evil have not yet proven their case. It’s hard to prove a negative, but so far it is starting to look like the folks who think microwaves and microwaved food are harmless are probably right.

Here are a couple of important points:

  1. As far as I am aware, there has not been any study which has survived follow up studies and further testing which has proven any ill effect from low level microwave radiation or from eating food prepared in a microwave oven (I have to say low level, because high levels of microwave radiation cook things, just like high levels of visible light can do - ask anyone who has ever fried an ant with a magnifying glass).

  2. There is no known mechanism which would explain how microwaves cause damage like that which is proposed. Microwaves are non-ionizing, which means that the waves do not have enough energy to strip electrons off of atoms and create ions. A lot of other electromagnetic radition is also non-ionizing. Radio waves (microwaves are really just higher frequency radio waves), infra-red light, and visible light are all pretty much harmless. You wouldn’t squick out if someone shined a flashlight on your arm, and yet that is bombarding you with electromagnetic radiation. Do the same thing with microwaves and some people go freaky, even through microwaves are much lower in frequency. Part way through the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, electromagnetic waves become ionizing, which means that they can strip electrons off of atoms and create ions. This is well known to cause cancer, and all other kinds of molecular damage. Everything ultraviolet and above (which includes x rays and gamma rays), is dangerous. Everything below, is not. Don’t shine an ultraviolet light on your skin. You can get skin cancer. Microwaves and flashlights though are no problem. Sitting in a tanning booth isn’t quite so safe.

  3. Statistics support all of the above. If microwaves were dangerous, we’d have people dropping like flies. They aren’t. There are no increases of brain problems that statistically correlate with the increase in the populary of cell phones. We knew that X-rays and higher frequency radiation was dangerous long before we understood how it worked, because folks who messed with that sort of thing statistically died off a lot younger than people who didn’t. Marie Curie herself died of health problems related to radiation exposure. The statistics were there before the dangers were understood. We don’t have that same kind of statistical correlation with microwaves.

The long and short of it is, eat your soup, it won’t hurt you. And stay away from web sites on either side of the subject, unless you have really deep waders on and are prepared to walk through lots of crap.