Microwave Cooking: Debunking Cancer Risk Myths

Microwaves have become a staple appliance in many households due to their convenience and speed when it comes to heating food. However, there has been a growing concern among some people about the safety of microwaves and their potential link to cancer. In this issue’s Food Talk, we explore the science behind this debate and debunk the common myth about cancer with cooking expert Harriet.

photo by Dishy kenya

One of the most common myths about microwaves is that they can cause cancer. However, the truth is that microwaves do not cause cancer. The type of radiation they emit, called non-ionizing radiation, is not strong enough to damage DNA, which is a known cause of cancer. In fact, microwaves are a safer way to cook food compared to other methods, such as grilling or frying, which can produce carcinogenic compounds.

Microwaves work by causing water molecules to vibrate and as a result, food is heated. This is different from the absorption of heat energy by food which is the basis of conventional cooking. Food does not retain microwaves or radiation after cooking, so there is no risk of radiation contamination. It’s important to note that microwave radiation is non-ionizing and does not have enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules in the body. Thus, it does not pose any threat of cancer.

However, there have been some studies that suggest a possible link between microwaving food in plastic containers and an increased risk of cancer. Plastic containers can release harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, when heated. These chemicals can disrupt hormones and potentially increase the risk of certain cancers. To reduce this risk, it is recommended to use microwave-safe glass or ceramic containers instead of plastic.

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It’s also worth mentioning that microwaving food can actually help to retain certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, which are sensitive to heat. While some nutrients can be lost in any cooking process, microwaving can help to preserve nutrients that would otherwise be lost in other cooking methods.

When used correctly, microwaves are a safe and convenient way to cook and reheat food.


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