by Marion Wild
Originally published at:
Microwave ovens, one of the many dubious technical achievements which were brought to Europe from the United States, have become increasingly popular in the last decade. Clever advertising campaigns of industry and trade have made sure that consumers are well informed of the advantages of microwave ovens. Microwave cooking is time-saving, simple and more convenient as well as energy-saving are the main sales arguments. Children in supermarkets are even offered ice cream with microwaved raspberry topping. Are these devices really safe, and is microwaved food really harmless?
The use of microwave ovens in commercial, domestic and other premises has in creased substantially over recent years. The food industry has been using the "quick wave" even since the 60s. In many medical practices patients are informed that microwaved food is practically free of micro-organisms and is therefore recommendable. In a book about cancer and nutrition the Swiss Cancer League states that "gentle cooking" in a microwave oven allows "only little mutagen formation." However, recent findings in research paint quite a different picture. An increasing number of consumers is beginning to suspect that microwaves are any thing but harmless.
HOW DO MICROWAVE OVENS WORK?
The physical principles of the microwave oven is quite simple: in the microwave oven an electronic tube, the so-called magnetron, generates an alternating power field. The molecules within the food - especially the polar water molecules, but also amino acids, lipids and proteins - are forced to align themselves with the rapidly changing alternating electrical field. They oscillate around their axis in response to reversal of the electric field that occurs up to 5 billion times per second. This oscillation creates considerable intermolecular friction that results in the generation of heat. Thus, the food is heated from the inside outwards leaving the dishes and the oven itself cold, because they are not directly heated by microwaves. This is contrary to conventional heating of food, in which heat transfers convectionally from the outer to the inner. In order to avoid interference between different applications of high frequency radio waves a frequency of 2450 MHz, which equals a wavelength of approx. 12 cm, was laid down for industrial and medical use - this includes microwave ovens for household use.
The phenomenon of frictional heat caused by micro waves was discovered accidentally in 1946 (if not earlier) during an experiment with a magnetic field tube. One of the researchers, Percy Spencer, noticed that a piece of chocolate he had been carrying in his jacket pocket had melted although he had not been aware of any heat. The discovery triggered off the development of kitchen appliances in the U.S.A. utilizing this heating effect. As early as 1952 a microwave oven, adapted for domestic use, was placed on the U. S. market - under license to Raytheon Company. Oscillation of a polar molecule in an electric field.
THRESHOLD VALUES AND MICROWAVE EMISSION
In the western part of the world the detrimental effects of microwaves on biological systems have at least been known since their first application during the last world war. Russian scientists had already conducted research in the 1930s on the effects of microwaves on the nervous systems of humans and animals. Their findings led to very strict safety measures which, however, were not taken seriously by western scientists who in the 1960s still used threshold values a thousand times higher than those of the Russians. In the late 1980s a study on domestic microwave ovens was conducted in Washington D.C. as well as in two other states. It revealed that microwave emission during the thawing, cooking and grilling processes was one quarter higher than the official threshold value of 10 mW/cm2 laid down by the electrical industry. A product test revealed that 24 out of 30 of the tested microwave ovens were considered too dangerous and had to be withdrawn from the market. Microwave emission of these ovens reached values of up to 20 mW/cm2. A hearing of the American Senate Committee started a controversy between science and the industry on the safety of cooking with microwaves which still continues. The largest manufacturer of microwave appliances, the Raytheon Company, that also supplies industrial enterprises and canteens with cooking and drying appliances, assured the committee that all their devices were fitted with ample safety measures, and furthermore it were "in any case clear that microwaves, unlike X-rays, don´t have a cumulative effect." However, a renowned university professor sent the following statement to the committee:
"We have proven beyond doubt that microwaves hitting the eye have the following damaging effect: repeated short microwave radiation which in itself is not painful and shows no ill effects in the beginning, leads in the case of frequently repeated exposure to lasting eye damages. Thus this non-ionizing radiation has a dangerous cumulative effect." 
The same also applies to domestic microwave ovens. A housewife unknowingly exposed day by day to microwave emission from an oven installed at eye level may acquire serious eye damage or even go blind. Those areas of the body with low circulation, respectively with a low cooling effect, generally react more sensitively to microwaves because the rise in temperature is greater than in areas with good blood circulation. The most sensitive part of the body is the lens.
A special safety interlock switch stops the generation of microwaves immediately the door is opened. In Switzerland the doors must withstand at least 100 000 open and close operations without damage. All commercial models have to pass this test. There is, however, no guarantee that there is no microwave leakage while the microwave oven is running, especially as far as older devices are concerned, and the consumer has no way of testing. In 1990 during a microwave oven testing program conducted by the Berliner Stiftung Warentest (Berlin Foundation for Product Tests) it was found that all of the tested ovens emitted microwaves while in operation.
However, in 1992 the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health stated: "Microwave leakage from properly run microwave ovens which are in perfect working order is not hazardous to human health, not even to people requiring special protection, e.g. pregnant women and infants. Fire and gas are much more dangerous in comparison." 
THERMIC AND NON-THERMIC EFFECTS
In addition to thermic effects, i.e. caused by frictional heat, athermic effects of microwave radiation must also be taken into account, meaning interaction between microwave radiation and structures in living organisms not caused by frictional heat. In Russia the non-thermic effects are also taken into consideration when laying down standards, while in other countries, such as Germany for example, only the thermic effects are taken into account. Compared with other countries, Germany is the most liberal as far as exposing its population to radiation is concerned.
Scientists declare that the quantum energy of microwave radiation is some orders of magnitudes less than required to dissociate covalent bonds and to trigger chemical reactions. It is therefore assumed that no chemical effects can be detectable in microwaved nutrients. Thus, according to scientific research, proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, etc. are not changed. Nevertheless, histological studies with micro waved carrots and broccoli have revealed that the molecular structures of nutrients are deformed by high frequency reversal of polarity, even up to the point of destroying the cell walls, whereas in conventional cooking the cell structures remained intact . Microwaving may even result in the development of new, hitherto unknown substances. The microwave induced reversal of the polarity causes the cells of the nutrients to become destructively polarized, thus free radicals can be created. All radicals have a strong tendency to cause reactions. They can interact with enzymes thus causing a disruption of biological processes. Microwave emission (leakage radiation) of 101 tested domestic microwave ovens.
In addition, through induction the food itself becomes a carrier and secondary source of technically generated radiation. Studies regarding the luminous power of luminescent bacteria revealed a highly significant association between the amount of microwave energy in the test foods and the increased energy in the blood serum of test persons who ate that food. The luminous power of luminescent bacteria exposed to serum from these test persons was significantly greater than that exposed to serum of those persons who had eaten conventionally heated food or raw food, respectively. This led the authors to the conclusion that such technically derived energies may be passed along to man inductively via ingestion of microwaved food [4, 5].
In a report published in 1980 by the Institute of Radiation Hygiene of the German Federal Office of PubIic Health (BGA) 16 studies were comparatively evaluated with regard to thermic and non-thermic effects of microwave radiation :
Decrease in enzyme activity and influence on enzyme catalyzed processes;
Influence on the thyroid gland, suprarenal gland and their hormones;
Effect on composition and function of blood components respectively;
Influence on cell growth, and structural changes in chromosomes;
Influence on concentration, blood constituents, and hormones in the brain respectively.
At the end of the 1970s a Forensic Research Document was released in the United States containing alarming findings on the destruction of the nutritive value of foods, development of cancer-causing agents, and direct biological effects of exposure to microwave emissions on humans (Microwave Madness - The Truth Campaign magazine no. 2 p.16-17).
CONSEQUENCES OF MICROWAVE RADIATION
The main effect of microwave treatment is, of course, quick heating of food compared to conventional heating methods. This quick heating of food-substances can lead to uneven and non-calculable heat distribution in the food - causing so-called "cold spots" and "hot spots" respectively. Thus germs are often not sufficiently inactivated and eliminated. Short heating periods of microbiologically contaminated food are a serious health hazard . At the Department of Medical Microbiology, Leeds University, England, the uneven heat conduction was also studied: two British scientists reported that the salt content in a defined portion of mashed potatoes influenced the temperature inside - the greater the salt content, the lower the temperature. The authors came to the conclusion that "the poor penetration of microwaves into the test food with high ionic concentrations may result from the induction of electrical/ionic flow in the sur face of the food. This would also explain why commercial food heated in microwaves commonly boils on the surface but is cool on the inside" . This may result in salmonelosis and listeriosis through insufficient cooking of, for example, chicken.
The anthroposophist A. Bohmert reported the following discovery in one of her presentations: water samples were heated, some in a microwave oven and others convention ally, and then left to cool down before use. These water samples were used to bring grain to germination. The grain in contact with microwaved water was the only one that did not germinate.
In 1973 two American scientists, P. Czerski and W.M. Leach  proved that microwaves cause cancer in animals. The American National Council for Radiation Protection NCRP announced at the end of the 80s that children of mothers exposed to using microwave ovens were found to have an increased rate of malformations.
Early in the 1990s a hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, distributed pamphlets warning people against using microwave ovens to heat infant formulas because they altered the food. In 1991 a patient in a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, died of anaphylaxis after receiving a blood transfusion for which the blood had been warmed in a micro wave oven. Apparently the microwave irradiation had altered the blood causing the patient´s death. In that very same year the New England Medical Center in Boston stated that the structural and functional integrity of erythrocytes (red blood cells) remained unaltered by microwaving. But then what killed the patient?
MILK AS A WARNING EXAMPLE
Established science has yet to prove that no qualitative changes take place in irradiated matter, e.g. impede the characteristic vital-energy field, as was probably the case in the experiment with the germination of grain. An interesting research method was published by Le Laboratoire associatif pour I´application des tests sensibles (LAPATS). A special crystallization method for test-suspensions makes it possible to draw conclusions as to the kind and origin of food-substances, e.g. biological or conventional production, irradiated or not, and the heating method used. The crystallization method reveals that food becomes denatured through irradiation. Microwaved milk was denatured to such a degree that it was not considered fit for consumption.
A group of scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California discovered that microwaving breast milk at high temperatures (72°C to 98°C) caused a marked decrease in activity of all the tested anti-infective factors. E. coli growth at >98°C was 18 times that of control human milk. Microwaving at low temperatures (20°C to 53°C) had not significant effect on total IgA, but did significantly decrease lysozyme. Even at 20°C to 25°C, E. coli growth was five times that of control human milk. Because microwave radiation lead to a significant loss of the immunological properties of milk the authors concluded that microwaving is definitely "not a suitable heat treatment modality." They assumed that non-thermal as well as thermal effects of microwave radiation must play a decisive role because "the adverse effects on anti-infective factors are difficult to explain on the basis of hyperthermia alone." 
A further study on milk, conducted in Vienna, showed that microwave treatment induced high razemization rates in food proteins which was not observed after conventional cooking. In particular, D-proline and cis-D-hydroxyproline were reported to have been found in significant amounts in microwave-heated infant milk formulas. Normally, L-proline is found in biological matter. Lusec et al.  warned that "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." Moreover, in animal experiments D-proline was found to be neurotoxic. Renowned scientists did their utmost to discredit these findings. Shortly afterwards the Nestle Research Centre declared food microwaving "as good as and some times better than the conventional heat treatments." In fact, Lubec himself "revoked" his findings in 1990, yielding to pressure from industry and trade.
MAN AND MICROWAVED FOOD
How does microwaved food affect the human organism? Whether it is detrimental and to what extent can, at present, only be observed by its effects on living organisms. In 1992 the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health (BAG) categorically refused to support experiments feeding animals solely on microwaved food to study the effects on health on the following grounds:
"As far as we know today they are not necessary and must be rejected for reasons of animal protection (so-called ´unnecessary´ animal experiments)."
1989 the Swiss biologist Dr. H. U. Hertel proposed to the University of Lausanne to conduct extensive research on the effects of microwaved food on human organisms. Together with Prof. Bernard Blanc he developed a program which was submitted to the Swiss National Fund. The over all costs for the research program were estimated to be approx. 150 000 Swiss francs. However, the National Fund was not prepared to support the study, arguing that there was no need for research in this particular field of science. The two scientists were not prepared to give in so easily and decided to scale down their experiment and bear the costs themselves. Their study on the effects of microwaved food on human beings in comparison to conventionally prepared food proved that food which had been cooked in a microwave oven caused significant changes in the blood immediately after incorporation by the test persons [4, 5]. The authors noted that these changes, some of which could be called highly significant, indicated the beginning of a pathological process, e.g. the beginning of cancer.
Examples of microwave application in the food industry:
Thawing: meat, fish, butter, fruit, berries
Cooking: bacon, potatoes, pies, fish, meat, poultry
Drying: pasta, onions, rice cakes, seaweed (kelp)
Vacuum-drying: citric juices, grain, seeds
The consumer is led to believe in the safety of these devices, which is based on threshold values and standards laid down by so-called experts. The research findings presented to support their issue do not withstand closer scrutiny and prove, more often than not, to be nothing but eyewash. Firstly these experts are, for the most part, not independent researchers and therefore their decisions are biased by pressure on the part of industry, and secondly in modern science it no longer seems common place to be committed to searching for the truth.
In Germany, for example, the safety standards are laid down by the VDE Committee which is made up of 18 members, 15 are representatives of industry! It is therefore possible that the health of the populace could be sacrificed to economic interests in a flippant and irresponsible manner. It is no easy task to prevail against a lobby, which deceives consumers by claiming that there was no real evidence that microwave ovens are a health hazard, when there were more than enough studies proving the exact opposite, and even stoop so low as to forge expert´s opinions in their favor as well as indulging other forms of fraud.
REVERSAL OF THE CAUSATION PRINCIPLE
Cases such as these are increasingly becoming the focus of public attention. Scientists as well as the persons affected are coming to the conclusion that:
"These and other problems could be solved by reversal of the causation principle. The affected persons would no longer have to fight against the industry with their hand picked lawyers and experts. The responsible party would have to prove that their products or methods are indeed harmless and can, if necessary, be held liable for damages. Entrepreneurs and experts should at least be prosecuted for deliberate deception and violating their duty of care. Negligent and deliberate damage to people should be treated as a criminal offense."
YOU DON´T BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU
"The measurable effects on man through ingestion of microwaved food, unlike untreated food, are blood alterations, that can also be found at the beginning of a pathological condition, as also indicative of a beginning cancerous process."
(Excerpt from a letter Prof. Dr. Bernard Blanc sent to Dr Hans U. Hertel.)
On 28 January 1992, during a TV interview in Kassensturz and in front of the press, Prof. Blanc [former member of the University Institute for Biochemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Lausanne] formally disassociated himself from his earlier interpretation of the results of the research he had done together with Dr. Hertel. Although, in February of 1992 he had admitted in an interview with the Basler Zeitung: "This doesn´t mean that no further research should be conducted because the changes in the blood do indicate that irradiated food causes a reaction in the body." However, in a private letter to Dr. Hans U. Hertel, the co-author, he admitted that he feared consequences and that the safety of his family was more important to him than anything else. Do we call that freedom of science and research?
TRUTH CAUSES A STIR
Seldom has a report caused such a stir as did the Swiss study on the hazards of microwaved food. Journalists, microwave opponents, trade, and industry started a battle which is still in full swing today. The Swiss Association for Electroapparatuses for Households and Industry (FEA) filed a complaint against Dr. Hertel for violating the Law Against Unfair Competition. The court upheld the complaint and sentenced Dr. Hertel. Prof. Michael Teuber, head of the Department of Food Micro biology at the ETH Zurich, who was called as an expert witness by the industry stated that he hadn´t even seen Hertel´s study, however, he was of the opinion that it was not scientific and would not withstand closer scrutiny. In his comment of 29 February 1992 on the safety of micro wave ovens he wrote: "The publication can, according to the present state of knowledge and considering all known effects of microwaves, at best be described as irresponsible and tendentious panic-making for no verifiable reason."
He told the court of a thesis his institute was preparing for which he as consultant was responsible. This thesis would prove beyond doubt the harmlessness of microwave irradiation, as first results had already shown, he assured the court. The thesis was presented almost unnoticed in 1994. It describes tests on the thermic effects of microwaves on bacteria, focusing especially on possible DNA structural changes and enzyme activity [ 12]. It is not surprising that this study has quietly disappeared from the scene. Prof. Teuber obviously missed the point in court.
Tele 5 and RTL plus (German television) interviewed Dr. Hertel live. The magazine Journal Franz Weber first published a condensed version of his studies which were followed by various other publications. However, an interview Thomas Ohrner of Tele 5 did with Dr. Hertel on 3 January 1992 met with the greatest response. At the end of the show Thomas Ohrner advised viewers to take their microwave ovens and put them in the cellar.
Traders bore the brunt of the reactions: Customers flocked back to the shops to return the microwave ovens they had received as Christmas gifts. The traders in turn stirred up the rebellious feelings of the producers, who then complained to Tele 5 and requested a further - this time objectively conducted - talk show. The following experts were invited to take part in the second round: Prof. Dr. Horst Pichert, head of the Institute for Household and Nutrition, University of Weihenstephan, Dr. Matthes, Institute for Radiation Hygiene, subdivision of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Neuherberg, and Mr. Hess, Bosch Company, Department for Development of Microwave Ovens, all from Germany. However, Prof. Pichert did not appear in the show, claiming health problems. The discussion, which was unfortunately not objectively moderated, ended - as most talk shows do with a lot of unanswered questions and no solutions. The viewers were left bewildered which could, however, be the first step to searching for the truth.
MICROWAVED FOOD CAUSES CANCER
One single meal heated in a microwave oven does not kill us, but after a prolonged intake such micro waved food will cause so many blockages in the body that it will start to rebel. One day the world will wake up to the fact that microwaves do cause cancer, and are even worse than cigarettes. Microwaved food causes a slow death. In the beginning, superficially, we save a little time in heating up our morning coffee in the microwave oven - but the time we `save´ we are cutting off our own lives. There is no cure in the world to prevent or heal it as long as the cause remains in our homes, and we continue to use these devices.
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