Last week a friend sent me an email with the title of, “cancer update from John Hopkins. Being a person interested in staying healthy I read this information but then started thinking this could be a hoax. So to then I go online, looking first at those websites that have spent the time looking into the email hoaxes.
The first website was Snopes at, http://www.snopes.com/medical/disease/cancerupdate.asp I searched on the Email rumor title: “John Hopkins cancer caused by plastics.” Well Snopes says the email is not true. Which means that there was no report from John Hopkins and that John Hopkins does not support the information in the email. Their conclusion is that this email is a hoax.
The next website to be looked at was, “Truth or Fiction”. It is located at, http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/d/dioxins.htm
Now they also say that the report did not come from John Hopkins. That John Hopkins does not support the claims in the email. But the “Truth or Fiction” website contacted one of the doctors in the email who said that the part of the email quoting him does accurately report what he said. Yet “Truth or Fiction” says it cannot find any proof that what this doctor claims about the bad effect of plastic is true. So “Truth or Fiction” concludes that the email is not true and part of it is unprove.
Yet neither of these sites deals with the claim that the microwave is of and by itself unsafe to use. You can go to the web and find many websites that claim the microwave is an unsafe device. There is also debate on what causes cancer. In fact millions of dollars each year are spent on cancer research. In the end the basic question about how micro-waved plastics maybe affecting you is not answered.
So being careful about my health I started weighting out what was said in the emails and on the websites with what I already believe and know to be true. Having worked for many years in the field of electrical engineering, both as a technician and as an engineer, I know there are time-tested methods for proving any claim a device or material makes about what it can and cannot do. I have used these methods time and again to prove if the ideas of others or my own ideas really work. There are respected reliable sources for information if you understand what you are reading. There are also reasonable conclusions anyone can make if they have enough of the facts. So there should be a sound conclusion I can come to about the question, are micro-waved products safe?
The next week I got a different email from a scientific magazine, which describes how research scientists are having their experiments go bad because compounds from lab plastics they are using are getting into their samples. You can find the article about leaching plastics here, http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55172/. Then in the following Sunday paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there is a front-page article about a chemical, BPA, it is a synthetic estrogen, leaching from “safe” plastic and are getting into your foods if you use a microwave to heat them up. You can find the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday Nov 16 2008 edition. “BPA leaches from ‘microwave safe’ plastics”, or online at http://www.jsonline.com/chemicalfallout.
So here is more proof that has been added to the ongoing debate about how safe are micro-waved products. Yet can the average person reproduce those tests or something similar so we are not just passengers on a cruise ship heading full speed at some unknown iceberg at night without our own lifeboat? In this case we can do our own similar tests.
Most already know about potatoes and other food items that cannot be cooked in a microwave like they are cooked in an oven. Those who have used microwaves know they affect your food differently than a regular oven, there can be uneven heating, excessive dry, or not heating up much. In fact some foods cooked in a microwaves must be made special or they don’t cook at all. You know things just heat up differently in the microwave. In a restaurant we used a microwave. In it we heated many different foods. One in particular was asparagus. First we steamed the asparagus so it was partly done. Then when an order came we would put the asparagus in a bowl half filled with water. When the asparagus came out they were perfectly done and it was quick.
So here is a test you can do on your own. Steam or boil some vegetables you like, eat some, remember how they taste and feel and how long they stay warm. Let some vegetables that are only partly cooked just cool, you will use them later. Heat the same type of vegetables alone in a microwave. Check the tastes and feel. Compare to the steamed vegetables. Then heat the same vegetables you let cool earlier in same in microwave but put them in a glass bowl of water. Now taste and feel the same vegetables. Big difference. Most know that the microwave heated up the water first not the vegetables.
Now to the details of what the microwave is doing to your food and the container that you use to cook in. The instructor at school explained in technical manner how the microwave works by causing the molecules in the food to flip back and forth due to changing the polarity of the molecule. The following two websites define the process the same as my teacher did. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dielectric_heating and http://physics.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_do_microwave_ovens_work.
Basically the microwave makes the food vibrate on a molecular level. Your own voice is a vibration you can hear and if it’s strong enough you can feel the vibration. You can tune into radio waves with an antenna so you also can tune into microwaves with an antenna. This is because both radio waves and microwaves transmit energy to the antenna and cause it to vibrate. This vibration is turned into a sound you can hear. The sounds you hear are just vibrations the ear can detect. So microwaves transmit some energy that constantly changes the polarity of some molecules in your food, these fast vibrations create heat in what ever you are cooking.
It is all in one sense basic science stuff. When you heat things up, you are adding energy to that food item. Enough heat turns a solid into a liquid or directly into a gas, a liquid when heated usually turns to a gas but can leave a residue behind too. That is why you smell food when cooking, parts of the food have become a gas in the air. Another part of the food has become that black stuff on your pan. Your nose then detects these small bits by smell. So it is with anything you heat up. You can smell the fumes, from a candle, food, hair or the child’s toy in the toaster. You have just vaporized some of that material and breathed it in. If there is a lot of this vaporized material you have smoke.
You can also rub two things together to make them hot. By rubbing things together you cause friction, this generates heat and also wears off bits of what is being rubbed together, even if you cannot see them. The soap wears away, your tires wear down, wood, metal, or stone can be sanded smooth or worn away by continued rubbing against something. It’s the wearing away of an outer layer which releases parts of the original. Those parts then float through the air, join the liquid around them or fall to the ground to become dust. The end result for the material rubbed is that it is changed. It can be warm but is it always less than what it was because some of it has been carried away or change into heat.
So it follows then when a microwave heats something, it does so by causing the food and container to move or vibrate. The molecules that are moving, rub on other molecules. Basically bits of your food are rubbing against other bits of your food. This then causes heat by friction and small bits of that material will be rubbing off like sand paper on wood, others parts will be rearranged and some of the material will be vaporized into the air. Any way you look at it the microwave does not just add heat like your gas stove or electric toaster. It basically vibrates your food on the molecular level making it hot by friction. That is why your coffee stays warmer longer when you heat it up on the stove compared to when you heat it up in the microwave. It is like the difference between rubbing your hands together or holding them over a fire. Consider this also that you can properly add heat to your cloths in the dryer but should never microwave them. Both processes will make cloths hot, both remove the water, but the effect on the heated item is different. Adding heat is basically a different process than “micro-waving,” which is generating heat by rapid movement.
A basic fact is that a little bit of the container you cook in will get into your food. People have known this for years. Cook in steel and you get a little steel, cook in aluminum you get a little bit of aluminum. The liver can remove small amounts of metal and other toxins but what will your body do with plastics? Read more at http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Plasticizers/Out-Of-Diet-PG5nov03.htm.
Since BPA, which is an artificial estrogen, is found in plastics and has been shown to get into your food after being micro-waved. Men you need to ask yourself if you want to take female hormones? Moms you have to ask yourself do you want to give female hormones to your growing boys, even if it is in small amounts? Also consider that scientist and other professional have proven that parts of plastics are coming off into their experiments and into your food. This has been known by the FDA for years, they only debate what plastics doing to your body. Microwaves do not just add heat but causes the food and the container being microwave to lose small bits of itself into your food. We are faced with serious questions. Do we want to eat plastic, even in small amounts? How much plastic do we want to consume? Is this plastic good for my health even if I am not getting sick right away? Can we wait until someone else tells us what we can safely eat? Do you want to microwave your food? Do you want to be a lab rat? We each have a personal choice to make. Live long and prosper.