Microwave Dangers
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This is a video I made investigating the claims that microwave ovens are dangerous.

 

Microwave Dangers

 

 

All media used in this video is covered by “Fair Use” and “Fair Dealing”. This video is copyright free for educational purposes.

 

Excellent comics from Nick Kim http://www.lab-initio.com/

 

South Park clips (in case you hadn’t guessed, I am a big fan)

Season 1 Episode 5, An elephant makes love to a pig

Season 3 Episode 15, Mr Hankey’s Christmas classics

Season 9 Episode 8, Two days before the day after tomorrow

Season 10 Episode 3, Cartoon wars

 

Transcript of most of the video

 

<Dr Group video, “My advise”>

 

That was Doctor Group with his advice about the dangers of microwave cooking. It would be worth knowing if the advise he gives is based on “real clinical studies and research that has been done on microwave cooking”, so lets see…

 

<Dr Group video, “Christian Law Institute”>

 

At this point in time you might be wondering what Christian Law and Microwave ovens have in common…well… not much.

 

Unfortunately the Christian Law Institute website doesn’t exist anymore, however in 2003 David Vernon from the Canberra Sceptics had documented a few of the wacky claims made by the group. The Christian Law Institute seems to be sexist… racist… and makes some bizarre claims. Anthony Wayne who was one of the authors that Dr Group refers to has also claimed that the Jews are responsible for killing over 100 million white Christians in the last century. I think someone might have noticed that many white Christians being killed, so it is fairly safe to assume that it didn’t happen and that the author just made it up.

 

[edited out of video: The author being racist doesn’t make their research on microwave ovens any less valid, however I think it is useful to highlight the ability of the author to understand reality.]

 

<Dr Group “Radiation causes ionisation”>

 

No, that is not true. This is the electromagnetic spectrum with low energy radiation on the left, and high energy radiation on the right. Ionising radiation is up here at ultraviolet and higher energy. Non-ionising radiation is there. Microwave radiation is way down here, it’s not even close to ionising radiation.

 

<Dr Group, “microwave oven decays and changes the molecular structure of the food”>

 

Well yes, it does, it cooks the food. That is the whole idea of cooking food. Humans cook food because it helps with digestion. The digestive system breaks down the molecular structure of the food, by cooking it we are giving our body a head start.

 

[edited out of video: Cooking food also kills any bacteria present, preventing food poisoning]

 

<Dr Group, breaks down vitamins and minerals> 

 

A 1995 article by Anne Lassen and Lars Ovesen in the journal ‘Nutrition and Food Science’ concluded “there is a tendency towards greater retention of many micronutrients with microwaving, probably due to the shorter preparation time”.

 

[edited out of video: And that “The main problem with microwaving is the uneven heating of the food, which has raised concern regarding microbiological safety.” In other words, the unevenness of heating could cause parts of the meal stay cooler than the temperature required to kill bacteria. This is easily fixed by cooking in two or more periods and stirring between and allowing the food to stand after cooking so the heat can spread evenly throughout the food.]

 

<Dr Group with Dr Hertel’s fraudulent conclusions>

 

This paper was not published in a peer reviewed journal. The sample size for the study was only 8 volunteers and none of the blood analysis results fell outside of the normal range of variation.

 

Professor Blanc, wanted nothing to do with the conclusions that Dr Hertel was drawing and had stated:

 

“While the published figures and description of the preliminary experiment are correct, I totally disassociate myself from the presentation and interpretation of the preliminary exploratory experiment carried out in 1989, which was published without my consent by the co-author…The results obtained do not in any circumstances justify drawing any conclusions as to the harmful effects of food treated with microwaves…”

 

<Dr Group, Lancet letter>

 

Yes, it is respected. This is a peer reviewed journal, however the journal also has a letters to the editor section which is not peer reviewed. You can find a letter to the editor titled AMINOACID ISOMERISATION AND MICROWAVE EXPOSURE in the 9th December 1989 issue of the Lancet.

 

… as you can see it is a short letter to the editor… and this is the quote from the Christian Law Institute article. Highlighted in yellow are the words that are used in the Lancet Letter. As you can see, they are not particularly good at quoting, in fact if we look at all of the places where there are three or more words that are completely unedited…. you can see that this is not a quote, it is just picking random words and making the rest up.

 

Basically the letter in the Lancet suggested that further research should be done when they found that a protein in milk changed into a toxic form when microwaved. This was followed up by research groups around the world and the overall finding was that it was not relevant to home heating of milk. The power levels of microwave radiation required was much greater than available to household microwave ovens.

 

<Dr Group, The Soviet Union>

 

I was unable to find a credible source for this claim, I don’t know if the Russians actually banned microwaves or if this is just another made up fact.

 

If anyone can provide CREDIBLE evidence for or against this claim please tell me

 

<Dr Group, Stomach and intestinal cancer>

 

I could imagine that’s probably true. The people out of the whole of the worlds population who have enough money to buy a microwave oven, are generally the same people who have a longer life expectancy. The longer you live, the higher the probability of getting cancer. Causality can not be determined from a correlation.

 

“Research has shown that cooking certain meats at high temperatures creates chemicals that are not present in uncooked meats. A few of these chemicals may increase cancer risk. For example, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are the carcinogenic chemicals formed from the cooking of muscle meats

Studies have shown that microwaving meat prior to cooking helps to decrease mutagens by removing the precursors. Meats that were microwaved for 2 minutes prior to cooking had a 90-percent decrease in HCA content.”

http://www.cancer.gov/

 

In fact, if you look at information from the National Cancer Institute in the USA you will find that using a microwave oven can decrease the amount of carcinogenic chemicals created when compared with conventional cooking techniques. But don’t just believe me, have a look at the website for yourself.

 

<Dr Group, “out of a list of huuu you know fifty”>

 

I don't think that Dr Group is being deliberately misleading with his microwave advise, but perhaps he should do more research next time. However the Christian Law Institute is guilty of lying.

 

For some reason I kind of doubt that Dr Group actually read huuuu you know fifty different studies. I think maybe he just read that one article from the Christian Law Institute and managed to regurgitate it onto youtube. He might have a different view on microwave safety if he had actually read real research which was published in peer reviewed journals.

 

The Christian Law institute article made a number of other claims which were not covered in Dr Groups video. One of the claims is that the microwave oven was invented by the Nazis for supporting the invasion of Russia.

 

I don’t know how anyone would think it is a good idea to be dependant on the electrical power supply in the country you are invading during world war 2. Or perhaps they thought it would be smart to carry massive diesel generators to power the microwave ovens. In actual fact the Nazis did not invent this item of culinary convenience.

 

[Edited out of video:  In 1935 Hans Hollman developed the mulit-cavity resonant magnetron which was later improved by UK scientists John Randall, Dr. Harry Boot and James Sayers. This development gave the allies a massive advantage during the second world war with the use of radar.]

 

In 1945 an American Engineer Percy Spencer was developing a more efficient way to produce magnetrons for military radar use. He noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket melted while standing in front of an operating magnetron.  He then deliberately cooked popcorn and later an egg, which apparently exploded in his colleges face. He then went on to confine the microwave radiation in a metal box, which then became the microwave oven.

 

The real dangers of microwave ovens

 

1. The eye

2. Superheated water

3. Plastic containers

4. Uneven heating

5. Heating blood

6. Falling microwave ovens

 

Finally I thought it would be worth looking at some of the real dangers of microwave ovens.

 

Firstly: The lens of the eye has no cooling blood flow, it is prone to overheating when exposed to microwave radiation. This would only be a problem if the microwave oven door electromagnetic screening failed and allowed the radiation to pass out of the door.

 

Secondly: The microwave oven is capable of producing superheated water, that is, water in its liquid state while it is over 100 degrees Celsius. When anything is put into the water it suddenly boils, spitting boiling water everywhere, which can result in burns.

 

Care should be taken with plastic containers in the microwave, some can become weakened due to the heat and potentially fall apart or contaminate the food, so always use microwave safe containers.

 

A microwave oven does not heat the food evenly, the food can end up with hot and cold spots, and the cold spots my not taken above the temperature required to kill bacteria. The solution to this problem is to stir the food and let it stand for a while after cooking to distribute the heat evenly.

 

Heating blood in the microwave is not a good idea, as stated earlier, the microwave does not cook the food evenly. So if you try to warm blood, some parts will get cooked, and other parts stay cold. This happened in 1989 when a nurse in Oklahoma in a rush to get blood to the patients body temperature, put it in the microwave. The patient was killed by the fact that the blood was overheated.

 

“heating of the blood led to haemolysis (break down of the red blood cells) and this released a large amount of potassium into the blood, which proved fatal.”

 

And finally if a microwave oven is dropped onto someone’s head from a great height, then they will probably die.

 

References

 

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldteo-HPdYU

2. http://www.herbalhealer.com/microwave.html

3. http://www.mercola.com/article/microwave/hazards.htm

4. the Skeptic, Winter 2003, Australia, http://www.skeptics.com.au/journal/2003/2_microwaves.pdf

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digestion

8. Lassen, Anne. Ovesen, Lars. Nutrition and Food Science. 1995. Vol. 95, Iss. 4; p 8.

9. G. Lubec, Chr. Wolf, B. Bartosch, The Lancet. 9 December 1989, p 1392.

10. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/03/23/1597903.htm?site=science/greatmomentsinscience

11. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/heterocyclic-amines

12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/post_saddam_iraq/html/1.stm

13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_oven

14. http://www.gallawa.com/microtech/history.html

15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superheating

16. http://www.fda.gov/FDAC/features/2002/602_plastic.html

17. http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/2007/10/articles/food-safety-communication/cooking-a-frozen-pot-pie-in-a-microwave/

 

After completing the video I found this article, which also covers the concerns of microwave ovens: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0813/is_3_32/ai_n13664949/

 

The Lancet Letter to the editor

 

AMINOACID ISOMERISATION AND MICROWAVE EXPOSURE

 

Sir, -Microwaves are used for cooking and for scientific purposes. One application is the hydrolysis of peptides and proteins.1 To see if such hydrolysis alters aminoacids by isomerization or degradation we did the following study on three different milk formulae.

Formulae were tested in their native state, hydrolysed conventionally by 6 mol/l hydrochloric acid at 105ºC for 16 h, heated for 10 min in a microwave oven used for heating of infant food or heated to 80ºC in a water bath for the same period.

4 and 3 trans-hydroxyproline and 3 and 4 cis-hydroxyproline were measured by thin-layer chromatography.2 The results were checked by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry and by high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC).3 The same samples were studied by HPLC with ‘Cyclobond I’ β-cyclodextrin columns4 to obtain D and L aminoacid separation. As marker, D-proline was used.

Free aminoacids in milk formulae, conventionally hydrolysed milk samples and conventionally heated milk samples did not contain cis-3 or cis-4 hydroxyproline. However, all three formulae contained cis stereoisomers of hydroxyproline after microwave treatment and the microwave treated samples were the only specimens in which D-proline was found on HPLC; concentrations of cis-isomers were 1-2mg/l.

The conversion of trans to cis forms could be hazardous because when cis-aminoacids are incorporated into peptides and proteins instead of their trans isomers this can lead to structural, functional, and immunological changes. 5,6

The fact that L-proline was converted to D-proline should also be taken into account. D-proline is neuroxocic,7 and we have reported nephrotoxic and hepatoxic effects of this compound.8

We therefore advise further studies on the molecular changes of aminoacids and other compounds because so little has been published about this aspect of microwave treatment.9

 

Department of Paediatrics,

University of Vienna

A-1090 Vienna, Austria

 

G. Lubec

Chr. Wolf

B. Bartosch

   

The Christian Law Institute article quoting The Lancet letter to the editor.