Consumer News

Is My Microwave Giving Me Cancer?

You can find a microwave oven in almost all homes in the U.S. It provides convenience to 97 percent of households across the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

However, the small machine did not escape the public’s playful minds. There are misconceptions about microwave oven, with some claiming it could cause cancer.

That may be due to the presence of radiation. Exposure to it has long been linked to health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and skin conditions. 

However, it requires high levels of radiation to significantly damage the body. Sources of harmful levels are X-rays, gamma rays and ultraviolet radiation.

Microwave ovens produce little radiation that it can only make molecules vibrate. The low energy also do not cause changes in the chemical structure of the food, according to Quick and Dirty Tips.

“Microwave ovens do not make food radioactive,” according to Cancer Council NSW. “Microwave ovens heat food by producing radiation which is absorbed by water molecules in the food. This makes the water molecules vibrate and produce heat, which cooks the food.” 

The American Cancer Society said that the radiation allowed by federal laws to leak from microwaves is below the level that could harm people. Microwave ovens are designed with a metal mesh built with holes small enough that microwaves are unable to escape. 

Aside from causing cancer, some people also believed that heating food through the microwave would remove its nutrients. That is not true. 

Any method of cooking a food can affect its nutrients. 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 of time, which reduces the time that nutrients break down. 

“Microwaves heat food,” the Cancer Council NSW said. “They do not make any changes to food that aren’t made in any other cooking method.”

Health experts are encouraging people to always check and follow the instructions added by manufacturers on a microwave oven to avoid any harmful effects on humans.

To date, the common injuries linked to microwave ovens in the U.S. occur due to heat-related burns from hot containers, overheated foods or exploding liquids. But radiation is rarely associated with injuries, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Microwave Oven Microwave oven is being used at 97 percent of households across the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. jmv/flickr

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