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Are Microwaves Bad or Not?

I’m not talking about a normal microwave usage, which can be dangerous if you lack common sense: Health Canada’s Microwave Ovens and Food Safety. Also, don’t heat your baby in a microwave oven.

I’ll talk about my point of view regarding the “conspiracy” that microwaves are inherently bad for the health.

 

The story goes like this: In 1991, a woman is at the hospital for a hip surgery, and is killed by a blood transfusion which has been heated in a microwave. There was then a lawsuit by the family against the hospital and many doctors.

Would it be reasonable to conclude that microwaving something changes the molecular structure in a way that is harmful to us? Biologically, it’s more reasonable to say that the blood cells were killed by the microwaves, and that it’s the transfusion of dead blood that killed the patient, not the fact that a microwave was used. But I’m assuming that the blood was heated to the same temperature normal transfusions are heated to by traditional methods – why, then, did it kill the cells? Are microwaves only dangerous towards living things, and don’t change the molecular structure of others?

I’ll talk very briefly about Hans Hertel, and you can read more about his experiment. Basically, his experiment was to monitor blood before and after eating various meals. Some were raw, some were heated on the oven, and others were heated in a microwave. If we can trust the results, using a microwave is unhealthy (decrease of all cholesterols, short-term decrease of white blood cells followed by over-normal levels, …). All pointing towards the conclusion that the body fights microwaved food and shows cancer-like symptoms. Meh…

 

Normally, you have to take a study or research with a grain of salt, even if published in a prestigious journal. So much data can be tweaked to make it look favorable to the author’s goal, and this experiment is no exception.

But. I know enough about how big companies work, and the way they don’t want attention to some… things. The FEA (Swiss Association of Dealers for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry, and couldn’t find a website) issued a gag order against Hertel, effectively telling him to stay quiet about this, or else. I didn’t find the gag order on the Internet, but it took him five years to revert the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights.

Now I think the FEA went a bit berserk. Companies usually counter with their own studies or experiments (whether they are true or false), or just continue as if nothing ever happened (like the government of the USA concerning 9/11, or NASA against conspiracy theorists saying that nobody ever went to the moon).

 

Let’s just assume that the FEA were just very angry. What do we actually know about microwaves (and please understand that my knowledge of microwaves is not very deep)? The microwave oven generates an alternating electromagnetic field, which causes the molecules inside the food to realign, if they can (if they are electric dipoles, like water molecules), to follow the field, absorbing energy as they do.

I wouldn’t want the water molecules inside my body to rotate and absorb energy, so it’s a bad idea for me to step into a microwave oven. But what about, say, a glass of water? What difference does it make if the molecules inside were wildly dancing before you put your tea bag in it? Maybe nothing. Maybe there is no difference, and heating, say, an apple will leave it’s molecular structure intact.

Then again, nobody knows. The only thing that microwave oven manufacturers have to do is to show that the microwaves do not leave the oven. There is no law, and there never was any, that required any company to publish a study that showed that food heated in a microwave is totally safe to eat. The government is doing the same thing they do with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, food preservers, etc…

 

Some will say that everything around us throws various photons of different wavelengths. Light, cellular phones, radios, IR remotes… With the amount of electromagnetic radiation we’re submitted to on a daily basis, 24/7, microwave heating would not change anything.

Actually, the key point here is that the microwave oven generates an “alternating electromagnetic field”. All these things around us are direct electromagnetic fields – light starts from the sun and hits you, then scatter away. Radio frequency starts from the top of the tower, and everything can catch the radio field. If you were inside a microwave oven, the microwaves would oscillate back and forth very quickly inside and around you.

It’s akin to direct and alternating current. For a house current voltage (110V), you need about 60mA of AC (alternating current) to cause fibrillation (unsynchronized contractions of the heart, usually leading to cardiac arrest if untreated), while 300-500mA of DC (direct current) is needed. 10,000V of AC is usually fatal, while you have a 1:4 odds of dying from a lightning strike (3,000,000V). Does alternating electromagnetic field do anything to the food that the body doesn’t like? Your bet is as good as mine.

 

Maybe it’s my pessimistic nature, but I know that people don’t like to change, especially if they lose convenience. They don’t care about their long-term health if they can have a dinner ready in 3 minutes instead of 30.

Also, according to an article in Pediatrics (vol. 89, no. 4, April 1992), heating breast milk, even at low power, destroys some disease-fighting properties of the milk (which is very important to the baby). And don’t get me started on cow milk, please.

 

So, is microwave ovens bad or not? No one knows (or do they?), but that’s enough to make me suspicious. After all, think about your microwaved apple – playing with the molecules inside really doesn’t seem natural!

I’ve used a microwave oven only about two or three times in the past five or six months, and I’ve learned something: I don’t really need it. I don’t know why, but eating cold leftovers doesn’t bother me anymore. It also seem like another kind of meal, and tastes different, than the first one that was hot. Also, taking the time to cook something the traditional way seems more appetizing now.

And that’s the person I’m evolving into: someone more natural. Until I have a reason not to, I’ll just live my life more naturally, without microwave ovens.

Categories: Health, Thinking
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