Recently, we were talking about not using our microwave oven to cook with. This piqued interest in our family. So we thought we'd freshen our research. In reading a few articles and checking the FDA website, in our house we prefer not to cook with the microwave. - Natural Healing Tools
Microwave Ovens and HealthMuch research is under way on microwaves and how they might affect the human body. It is known that microwave radiation can heat body tissue the same way it heats food. Exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause a painful burn. The lens of the eye is particularly sensitive to intense heat, and exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause cataracts.
Likewise, the testes are very sensitive to changes in temperature. Accidental exposure to high levels of microwave energy can alter or kill sperm, producing temporary sterility. But these types of injuries - burns, cataracts, temporary sterility - can only be caused by exposure to large amounts of microwave radiation, much more than the 5mW limit for microwave oven leakage.
Less is known about what happens to people exposed to low levels of microwaves.
Controlled, long-term studies involving large numbers of people have not been conducted to assess the impact of low level microwave energy on humans. Much research has been done with experimental animals, but it is difficult to translate the effects of microwaves on animals to possible effects on humans. For one thing, there are differences in the way animals and humans absorb microwaves. For another, experimental conditions can't exactly simulate the conditions under which people use microwave ovens. However, these studies do help us better understand the possible effects of radiation.
The fact that many scientific questions about exposure to low-levels of microwaves are not yet answered require FDA to continue to enforcement of radiation protection requirements. Consumers should take certain common sense precautions.
- Follow the manufacturer's instruction manual for recommended operating procedures and safety precautions for your oven model.
- Don't operate an oven if the door does not close firmly or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged.
- Never operate an oven if you have reason to believe it will continue to operate with the door open.
- As an added safety precaution, don't stand directly against an oven (and don't allow children to do this) for long periods of time while it is operating.
- Users should not heat water or liquids in the microwave oven for excessive amounts of time.
The Best Cooking Options for Maintaining NutritionMicrowaving cooks the food at very high temperatures in a very short amount of time. This results in a great deal of nutrient loss for most foods, especially vegetables. Our foods are also subjected to nutrient loss when we boil, fry, or roast our food. Boiling vegetables, for example, leeches most of the nutrients (including antioxidants) into the water. The best option for cooking vegetables that will result in only a minor loss of nutrients is steaming.
Sautéing and baking at low temperatures is also a viable option that will retain more nutrients than microwaving, boiling, or frying. Of course, by making the majority of your diet raw, with some added dietary fat to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), you’ll ensure a high level of nutrient intake.
Adding To the Toxic LoadWhen it comes specifically to microwaves, damage to the food itself isn’t the only concern. Many microwavable foods are processed and in packaging that contains an assortment of chemicals. Chemicals found in many of these containers include benzene, toluene, polyethylene terpthalate (PET), xylene, and dioxins (known carcinogens). At high temperatures, it is likely that chemicals can absorb into the food, and intake of these chemicals presents a high health risk. What’s more, the chemicals in the food themselves are also a cause for concern.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous contaminants in microwavable food is BPA. A watchdog report from the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel found this estrogen-like plastic leaked from all packaging into the food tested.  BPA disrupts normal hormone activity. Infertility, low-libido, cardiac disease, mental disorders, allergies, high blood pressure, and weight gain have all been linked to BPA exposure. The simple fact is, when you use a microwave, you’re getting a lot more than the food you eat.