As a freshman, everything in college is new to me. There are so many things to discover and so many things going on at the same time. The most thing I worried about before I came here was the condition of my dorm. So once I found out there is microwave oven in the dorm room, I was more than happy to use it as a resource for heating up my breakfast in the morning instead of going all the way to the dining hall. But after a couple of days, I started to concern about something else.
We all have heard of the legend some times during our life that standing too close to a microwave would cause cancer by absorbing the second-hand radiation. That really threatened me when I was a child. Now I have one right in my room, it levels up the anxiety sometimes. Are microwaves really a health hazard? In order to explore this topic, I decided to view this issue in two different angles: microwaves affect on food and affect on our body.
Before we went any depth into the discussion, it is better for us to understand what are microwaves first. The definition of Microwaves in Wikipedia basically summarised as it is a type of electromagnetic radiation which is similar to other types of waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, such as radio waves. The ranges and wavelengths of a microwave are shown by the image below.
(sources found on Google images)
From what I’ve learnt on a website, normally microwave oven works differently from a conventional oven. It allows the atoms of the food to vibrate much more frequently. In this way, it would heat up the molecules of the food through vibration so that the food is cooking evenly throughout instead of just the surface. This means that microwaves have the power to break down molecular and chemical bondings and rearrange them in the food. In this case, the body would digest the cells of the food differently, due to the chemical changes in the food cause by microwave. Because of this, people may concern about microwaves would be harmful to our food.
Articles such as Do Microwave Ovens Pose Health Risks said that microwaved food would lose nutrition. A study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2007) found that broccoli loses vitamin C when microwaved. However, vitamin C is volatile in heat, in this case this study couldn’t really prove that microwaved food really loss its nutrition, but in other cases, microwaved food contains lack of water which changes it taste. There are also worries about microwaved food would be radioactive, therefore do bad to our body. One article shows that food exposed to microwave radiation dose not transfer to human bodies. The article also concludes that any radiation that emitted from the microwaves contain much less strength that what you might thought it would be. So it won’t cause any harm to human. The article also gave out an interesting statement that the rays could kill bacterias from the food, which makes it safer to eat.
Besides of the potential damage to food caused by microwaves. There are many people also worry about the radiation emitted from the microwave would harm our body. After I read through a large number of different studies and websites, I would conclude that although microwaves do emit radiation, but it isn’t the that harmful to us. In other words, those radiations aren’t DNA-damaging. Peter Varberg’s study (1970) looked at the correlation between cancer and microwave radiation exposure. He found very little evidence to support the causal relationship between this two elements, therefore concluded that microwaves do not cause cancer. This also means that the amount of radiation created by microwave is below the threshold of harming human.
To fulfil my curiosity, I did the research on two different angles, and now I have my answers. Microwave do not produce bad consequence to foods. Although it might changes its original taste, it’s already a nice option for people living in dorms like me to heat up their breakfast in a simple way. It won’t radioactive the food as well. Second, the amount of radiation produced by microwave isn’t strong enough to damage your DNA and your body. So if you be careful and follow the instructions when you are using the microwave oven, you’ll be fine.