Salt and Limes

Microwaves, No Flavor but Totally Safe

There are two broad categories of radiation- ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation is radiation that carries enough energy to liberate electrons (ionize) from other molecules and therefore can alter or mutate DNA and increase the risk of cancer.

Examples of ionizing radiation- Ultraviolet rays from the sun, x-rays and CT scans.

Non-ionizing radiation is electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy to liberate electrons (ionize) from other molecules and therefore cannot alter or mutate DNA. It carries no increased risk of cancer.

Examples of non-ionizing radiation- MRI scans, AM and FM Radio waves, Cell phones, Power lines, Computers and Microwave ovens.


Do microwaves decrease the amount of nutrients in the food? No. With the exception of Vitamin C, most vitamins are not altered in microwave ovens. The nutritional content of food is rather well preserved by microwave cooking. It is a superior method to boiling as the nutrients stay in the food and do not leak into the boiling water.

Do microwaves create carcinogens in food? No, carcinogens are not created by microwaving foods. In fact, there are far more carcinogens in grilled and fried foods secondary to the creation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Ironically, these also give grilled food a better flavor (subjective).

Can I get cancer from standing too close to the microwave? No, the radiation is non-ionizing and cannot cause cancer. Also, there are guidelines for microwave manufacturers set by the FDA. These guidelines specify that no more than 5 milliwatts of non-ionizing radiation per square centimeter measured at 2 inches can leak throughout the ovens lifetime.

In summary, although microwaved food seldom tastes as good as grilled or fried food, it is totally safe.

This article was written by Erik Paulson, D.O., B.A., physician, board certified in diagnostic radiology and radiation physics.
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