There are a lot of myths that we have heard about microwaving foods. Have you ever been worried about using your microwave oven because of these myths?
Do microwave ovens cause cancer? Are we worrying about nothing? Or is there some truth to these? This article explains whether microwave ovens cause cancer or not.
How does a microwave oven work?
You can find a microwave oven in almost every house. Cooking with a microwave oven is highly convenient, as it’s simple and incredibly fast. Understanding the process of cooking using a microwave machine can help you understand why it can not harm your body.
Microwave ovens are kitchen appliances that turn electricity into electromagnetic waves called microwaves. These waves can stimulate molecules in food, making them vibrate, spin around, and clash with each other — which turns the energy into heat.
Microwave ovens produce non-ionizing radiation, which is similar to the radiation from your cell phone, though much stronger, which have not been found to cause damage to our cells. Microwaves do not use x-rays or gamma rays. So, radio waves do not make the food radioactive.
Do microwave ovens cause cancer?
When microwave ovens are used according to instructions, there is no evidence that they pose a health risk to people. Says the American Cancer Society.
Microwave ovens indeed emit tiny amounts of radiation. Studies show that they are not nearly enough to cause cancer. Microwaves, by contrast, are a much lower energy form of radiation.
However, microwaving your food in improper containers could possibly cause potentially harmful chemicals to leach from the container into your food. Plastic and cancer have a stronger link.
Certain plastics that contain lead, BPA, or phthalates are known for letting these harmful chemicals seep into food when heated. So, if you’re concerned about these risks, make sure to use microwave-safe containers, such as glass and ceramics. And avoid plastics when preparing food. Generally, metal pans or aluminium foil should also not be used in a microwave oven. The instructions that come with each microwave oven indicate the kinds of containers to use.
Can standing near a microwave oven give you cancer?
Microwaves do not contain enough energy to change substances through ionization chemically – they are an example of non-ionizing radiation. Other types of electromagnetic waves such as ultraviolet and x-rays possess more energy per photon and thus can cause cancer.
Your microwave oven would have to be leaking microwaves in order for you to be exposed to them from standing near a microwave oven. The doors of microwave ovens are designed with an interlock switch system. So the moment you open it, the microwave generator is shut off. If your oven is in good condition and is used correctly, It is safe to use without significant microwave leakage. So, at the end of the day, you won’t get cancer from standing too close to the microwave because the rays aren’t ionizing.
Does Microwaved food lose its nutrients?
Aside from causing cancer, some people also believed that heating food through the microwave would remove its nutrients. That is not true. When talking about Effects on Nutrient Content, Every form of cooking reduces the nutrient value of food. Some nutrients, including vitamin C, commonly break down when the food is exposed to heat. Microwave ovens can actually maintain more nutrients than other cooking methods. The food only stays inside for a shorter period, which reduces the time that nutrients break down.
Tips on Safe Microwave Oven Operation
- Most injuries related to microwave ovens are the result of heat-related burns from hot containers, overheated foods, or exploding liquids.
- Use microwave-safe containers
- Don’t operate a microwave oven if the door does not close firmly or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged.
- Before using a new microwave oven, always read the manufacturers operating procedures and safety precautions first.
- 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.
- Some ovens should not be operated when empty. Refer to the instruction manual for your oven.
- Frequently clean and inspect your microwave’s door seal to ensure that it is closing tightly and not allowing any radiation to leak out when it is operating.
- If you’re looking for a way to find if a glass container or dish is microwave safe, here is an easy way to test it. Place a cup of water in the dish and turn on your microwave oven at 100% power for one minute. If the water gets hot and the dish stays cool, then it’s safe to use in your microwave. But if the dish gets hot, then it contains lead or metals and should NOT be used.
Conclusive proof is lacking to link microwaves to cancer. However, it would be best if you always were careful in ensuring you are using compatible microwave utensils only.