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Microwave and cancer?

  1. Sep 26, 2003 #1
    Is is true that heating food/fluids using microwaves leads to a higher risk of cancer?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2003 #2
    Proof?
     
  4. Sep 26, 2003 #3

    russ_watters

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    Proof that it does NOT? No such thing. Negatives are inherrently unprovable. I can assure you however that noone has ever shown even a tenuous statistical link between microwave ovens and cancer- either directly or through food, much less an explanation of how it could even be possible. And there are plenty of good reasons why it can't:

    First, cancer comes from genetic defects. How eactly would food cause a genetic defect? Maybe if it was radioactive... This arguement is not unlike the common misconceptions about genetically engineered food.

    The microwaves themselves aren't even energetic engouh to damage dna. The usual old-wive's tale is that if you watch your popcorn pop, you'll go blind. Thats not bad (that much energy could burn your retina), but microwave ovens use screens that reflect microwaves. So very little gets out and they can't damage your eyes.
     
  5. Sep 27, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Have any long term studies been done?

    Then smoking must not cause cancer either.

    Of course you have the long term studies to clear up these misconceptions...whatever they are?

    Which is why we spent millions of dollars to determine if radio waves could do damage to cells when used in the application of NMR [MRI]. Non-ionizing does not guarantee no damage.

    I think the proper answer is that we have no reason to believe that any relationship exists here. It is also difficult to imagine how any relationship could exist.
     
  6. Sep 28, 2003 #5
    Last time i checked, smoking did cause genetic defects, in that it damages DNA.

    I thought microwaves work by emitting electromagnetic waves (radiation ) of the same frequency of water molecules to pass on energy, so it shouldn't be more dangerous than a heater.
     
  7. Sep 28, 2003 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes. Could other damage occur from yet unidentified sources? I don't think our understanding of cancer is complete.

    You are correct in how it works; however I don't think you would want to warm yourself in the microwave would you? Though it is likely inconsequential within the context of this question, there is a difference. My objection is the claim of certainty where only confidence prevails. I worked on MRI units [in the very early days of MR] for about 7 years. Even though we only use RF to "vibrate" the water molecules in tissue, which in turn causes the molecules to release a sympathetic RF signal, a great deal of study was done to verify that no cellular damage was occurring. This continued for many years. The fact is, even though this radiation is much lower in energy than microwaves, we weren’t sure what effects this may have tissue.
     
  8. Sep 28, 2003 #7

    Monique

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    First, do you know how microwaves work?

    It is a wavelight energy which is equal to the resonating frequency of water, only water molecules are affected by the radiation. DNA has a different resonating frequency and will thus not be affected.

    If you are asking whether microwave FOOD can cause cancer, you should find your answer in the question: does microwave radiation cause the formation of free radicals (as smoking does)?
     
  9. Sep 28, 2003 #8

    Monique

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    And BTW, I would be carefull in what you heat your food. I have heard about reports that some plastic molecules might become 'loose' and leak into your food, but I don't have anything to back that up..
     
  10. Sep 28, 2003 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    This only means that water molecules are most affected. Also, we could see harmonics come into play. Isn't it interesting that the medical community was concerned about cellular damage from RF?

    I agree. Within the the context of our present understanding of the mechanism of cancer this is the signficant question. However, might our understanding ever change?

    As I said,
    Is it remotely possible that microwaves could affect some other substance? For example, perhaps microwaves could cause damage to certain cells or that are somehow critical to the absorbtion of anti-oxidents?

    Is the theory of cancer complete?

    Could the seals on microwave doors start to leak after time thus exposing the popcorn watchers to radiation on a daily basis?

    I am not agruing against the popular notions of science; I am arguing that in most scientific contexts, one should never say never. :smile:
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2003
  11. Sep 28, 2003 #10

    iansmith

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    How long have we use the microwave oven? Any increase on the number of cancer related to intesnital track organs that are not due to better diagnostic? Food have eradiated for over 50 years. The process damage DNA of the bacteria and unicellular organism but not of the food itself because the cell are more complex. Also the food does not become radioactive. So we can extrapolate from that. Does microvawe can penetrate animal and plant nuclei and damage DNA signifanctly. As monique, it there any free radical create or any other subtance that is mutagenic.

    If they going to used for medical purpose, they have to do research. It also a different issue than eating microwaved food.
     
  12. Sep 28, 2003 #11
    Water that comes from a microwave is chemcially identical to water that is heated by other means. There are no more free radicals, or interchelating polyaromatic hydrocarbons (the main danger from smoking). Microwaves do not provide enough energy to cause chemical reactions to occur, the only cause water molecules to spin around faster. Which is what produces heat. The heat can then cause new reactions in food stuffs, but heat is produced in other kinds of cooking and cause the same reactions. Frankly cooking meat over coals is much more carcinogenic than microwaving it, since the former actually produces carcinogens, while the latter does not.

    Look, radiation that's less energenic than UV doesn't cause cancer. Lightbulbs are literally a greater source of radiation than microwaves. And they're more energetic to boot. So why all the studys on rf and microwaves (they're pretty much the same thing, and microwave has been studied because of cell phone use)? Frankly, it's because people hear the word radiation and they freak out. That's why they had to change the name of NMR to MRI, because in the former the R stands for radiation, and patients refuse to get into it, even though they're the same machine.

    I doubt any scientist has ever worried about harmful effects from rf and microwaves, the studies done have probably been done just to alleviate the fears of the ignorant public. And if there are people in the medical community who were worried about the outcome of the results; well, with all due respect to doctors, most don't know squat about chemistry and physics.

    (And I should know, I've had many a would-be doctor not pass my O-chem classes, not that I'm worried, because I'd rather have my surgeon more familiar with anatomy than quantum mechanics.)
     
  13. Sep 29, 2003 #12

    russ_watters

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    Yes. As a matter of fact though, the whole old-wives tale was started and perpetuated by a reporter without any basis in the first place. But it caught on and he made a bunch of money off of it. You can read about it in "Voodoo Science."
    Yes. In its first incarnation, GM food has been around for centuries. We call it "hybridization." Direct manipulation of the genes has been around since the 60s and has been extensively studied. And GM food today is so widespread there likely isn't a person anywhere in the US who doesn't eat it - and most people don't even know it. Virtually all soybeans for example, are GM.
    Our understanding of what causes genetic defects is pretty damn good. Its the killing of those cells that is tough.
    You know that word doesn't fit in a scientific discussion. I won't use it, though you imply thats what I mean. To use "confidence" though, our level of confidence is that we are confident about these things beyond any rational objection. Ie, these old wives tales are based on irrational fear of the unknown alone, not scientific data.
    C'mon, Ivan. You first ask if something has been researched then use the fact that it has been researched to hint that that means there is a reason for concern. You can't have it both ways: and scientists research EVERYTHING, most especially things that people have irrational fears of - often (as Chemical- said) because they are directed to.
    Ivan, your arguements go beyond rational concern. To even THINK about such fears would leave you hiding in your closet, rocking back and forth in the fetal position out of fear of EVERYTHING killing you.

    I have an aunt and uncle who used to drive to the airport together then get on separate flights so just in case one plane crashed there would still be one parent left to take care of the kids. Nevermind that the car ride to the airport was several orders of magnitude riskier than the plane flight - thats how irrational fears work.
     
  14. Sep 29, 2003 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    Obviously not everyone shares the opinions expressed here.

    http://www.alkalizeforhealth.net/Lmicrowaveovens.htm

    http://ighawaii.com/naturally/newsletter/micro.html

    http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q1913.html



    http://cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/3_46.htm
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2003
  15. Sep 29, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    http://www.netjournalist.com/mwovens.html


    http://www.cancer.ca/ccs/internet/standard/0,3182,3172_369485__langId-en,00.html


    http://www.theacorn.com/News/2002/0912/Health_and_Wellness/077.html
     
  16. Sep 29, 2003 #15

    iansmith

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    http://www.netjournalist.com/mwovens.html

    It adds a lot of credibility to the article:wink:


    Most of the web site you gave us do not link their claim with a scientific article. It is hard to says that if their claim is credible because we don't see the results (i.e. there mutagenic coumpound but what is the concentration) and also we don't see the materials and methods. Also it would be interresting to compare food cooked with normal oven, microave oven and food defrosted with microave then cook with normal procedure. It also be interresting to see if the cooking pots and pans for the classic oven can leak by-product.
     
  17. Sep 29, 2003 #16

    Njorl

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    I have heard of the admonitions against microwaving baby formula, though it is not a cancer issue. That microwaving can produce carcinogens is not that suprising. It is a question of how much risk it poses. Most likely, it is significantly less risk than cooking with conventional heat. All seared fat is significantly carcinogenic, microwaving avoids this (and all the yummy flavor only carcinogens can provide).

    BTW, there are low energy wavelengths that can cause genetic damage. I worked in millimeter-wave radar a few years, and we were told to avoid exposing ourselves to it, because it tended to split DNA haphazardly. It's not nearly as dangerous as sunlight, but sometimes we worked with very high powers.

    njorl
     
  18. Sep 29, 2003 #17

    russ_watters

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    No one of any scientific credibility disputes them. But there are ALWAYS crackpots.
    "Fake milk"? "Even more toxic"? You MUST see the bias in that person's statements. He's anti-forumla to begin with.
    C'mon, Ivan, credibilty. Check out the home page of that site. Its a catch-all conspiracy theory website. Not credible science.
    Yep, you found him. He's the one who created the myth. He tends to steer clear of scientists as they quickly and easily debunk him, but he does still sell a lot of books. Moral of the story: start a myth, scare a million people, sell a book, retire. Hmmm....

    Your computer monitor is giving you cancer. Buy my book and I'll tell you all about it.
    Well, that one is true. And don't put plastic containers in the oven either. And don't boil or peel your vegetables, it sucks the nutrients out. Don't touch the stove. Be careful taking your food out of the microwave - it could burn you. Perspective, Ivan, perspective. Keep your eye on the ball here. These have nothing to do with INHERRENT risks of microwaves or microwave ovens besides the inherrent risks of HEAT. Hot things are dangerous. I think thats well known. Hell, if anything, microwaves are LESS risky because they aren't as hot as conventional ovens.
    Obvious creidibility problem.

    C'mon, Ivan. You're bette than this. At least a grainy photo of a lens flare could be mistaken for a flying saucer. There really is nothing at all on this one.

    edit: Ivan, did you READ Brodeur's article? Its hilarious. I'd never read one before. It a mixture of equal parts gibberish, technobabble, lies, and misunderstandings of science.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2003
  19. Sep 29, 2003 #18
    microwaves invert the stereocenters of amino acids? Pull the other one. It's got bells on.
     
  20. Sep 29, 2003 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    Russ all that you offer as proof is your opinion. At least I post links. All that you do is argue. I think it has been shown that credible controversy exists. This is all that is needed to prove my point.
     
  21. Sep 30, 2003 #20

    russ_watters

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    Frankly Ivan, those sites are self-debunking and you should know it. No, there is no credible controversy. If its quotes you want (I'm sure in your search you turned up some sites debunking these things, but I'll give you some), the best I have is from "Voodoo Science". I doubt I'll be able to find it online (I'll try) but as long as you trust me, I'll type in some quotes. There is a chapter pretty much devoted entirely to Brodeur (p. 143-167) - he's also into power lines, I'm sure you heard that one too. Anyway, a few excerpts:
    And this one is great:
    Why Brodeur isn't in jail for MegaFraud is beyond me.

    HERE is a link about Brodeur causing the cell phone antenna scare nonsense. That link contains more excerpts from "Voodoo Science".
    THIS one contains pretty much the whole EMF part of the Brodeur chapter.
    THIS one has links about mostly power lines and cell phones - but also how to blow things up in your microwave.
    HERE is a funny one from Hong Kong which essentially says don't stand too close to a leaky microwave oven or you could get cooked. It also says though that they don't cause cancer.
    HERE is one that says plastic getting into your food via your microwave is an urban legend.
    THIS one is hilarious - don't heat a grain-filled therapeutic pillow in the microwave or it might catch fire (hey, there IS a danger!

    Moulder was right, Ivan - the truth is out there: Its not that hard to find this one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2003
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