Don’t Use a Microwave Oven

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on June 19, 2014

Microwave Oven

Most homes in the United States have a microwave oven, the last couple generations are more likely to have grown up with one than not. The popularity of microwaves makes sense, they offer a fast way to prepare and reheat food and have been somewhat of a kitchen revolution rivaling the introduction of the food processor. [1]

You might guess that I’m not a big fan of the microwave and you’d be guessing right. First and foremost, I am concerned about the effects of a radiation box in my home. And honestly, I have never cared for microwaved food. It’s just not as good. It’s always uneven- burnt on one side, frozen on the other. It’s impossible to get anything crispy, despite the paper fold-up sleeves designed to magically make it happen. It’s useless. Some elements of culinary technique simply are not available by way of this artificial method of heating.

It’s just the way a microwave works. Unlike traditional ovens, which cause changes in the actual temperature to heat food, microwaves use electromagnetic radiation to agitate molecules. This agitation causes vibration and that generates heat. Now, observers of space will attest to the presence of radiation in our universe. So in that sense, it is natural, but keep in mind we’re literally searching space for a justification to say that. Exposure to radiation is not good for your health.

How Safe Are Microwaves?

Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of back and forth debate over whether or not microwave radiation is damaging. You can search PubMed and find research on the subject but you can also simplify the process by just answering the following question. If a microwave the size of a living room existed, would you be alright with getting inside and turning it on “high” for a minute or two? Me either.

Another topic that’s generated a lot of discussion is the added concern of some of the materials used in the cookware people use with their microwave [2]. Plastic that contains BPA (and plastic that doesn’t) is problematic already. Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to wrap up food with that stuff and then give it a good spray of radiation? [3]

What Clues Already Exist?

Many responsible parenting resources will absolutely recommend against microwaving breast milk or formula [4]. If you ever need a blood transfusion the blood will be warmed prior to the procedure but rest assured it will not be done with a microwave. No gourmet restaurant is serving food prepared by a team of trusty microwaves. These are just a couple examples of how microwaves are not used in situations “where it really counts.”

You Don’t Need It

Thing is though, it always counts. Every meal you eat, especially if you’re eating with loved ones, should be prepared on purpose and with purpose. Things get hectic and schedules are busy but there are also natural foods of convenience that can be had during those times. And if you’re finding that you’re always in the middle of chaos and “have to” microwave food because you’re on the go, it might be time to regroup, refocus, declutter, and get back on track.

Give It Up

If you and your microwave are best friends, or even just good acquaintances, I challenge you to eliminate all microwave use for one month. Make it a New Years resolution. Switch to using an oven or toaster to heat your food and water. Or, if you really like, fire. Try it. And let me know how it makes your life different. I want to know how it affects your food decisions and the mechanics surrounding your meal time. Perhaps you could even do without any cooked food and adopt a raw vegan diet for month. Now, how do you think that would affect your health?


  1. Stephanie Butler. Natural history of the kitchen: food processor. Eat Me Daily. 2010 June 1.
  2. The Harvard Medical School. Microwaving food in plastic: dangerous of not? Family Health Guide. 2006 July.
  3. Katherine Zeratsky RD LD. What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?. Mayo Clinic. 2010 December 2.
  4. La Leche League International. Can human milk be heated in the microwave? Heating Human Milk in the Microwave. 2007 February 18

  • Malcolm Wright

    Trace contents won’t ionize the air around them in a microwave, it’s not the mere presence of metal but the structure of the molecules that effects micowaves when they strike the metal at an angle. If you’ve placed sufficient metal in the microwave for it to produce ionization you will see electricity.

  • Malcolm Wright

    Don’t heat up airtight containers =p

  • christian_707

    I’m not quite sure the author of this article understands how microwave ovens work. They do not use radiation (like x-rays, which are radioactive and could cause health issues) but rather radio waves (the same used by radios, walkie-talkies etc) except that the waves are concentrated to make the water molecule vibrate and produce heat, inside a shielded box (this is why there is always a “grill” in the front door window) to absorb all radio waves and prevent them from exiting the box. If you put your hand on the door, you’ll notice that barely any heat escapes the box, which indicates the waves are not leaving the oven.

    I think the real problem of microwave ovens is that they tend to make people lazy, and convenience microwave food is highly processed and very unhealthy for you. I agree with the author that it’s a good habit to try not to become reliant on these things, and try to cook things yourself with a regular oven rather than heating food that’s already made.

  • laguna_greg

    This whole article is bogus.

    1- I checked the possible citations on PubMed, and there isn’t anything in the research that supports the writer’s contention that microwaved food is unhealthy.

    2- ALL professional kitchens have at least one microwave oven. And the get used there too! (where’d they come up with that??)

    3- The concerns about human breast milk would be the same if you overheated it on a stove top using gas or electric heat.

    4- We are all exposed to stronger, more powerful radiation by a- walking outside, b- watching TV even with flat panel displays, c- standing next to electric transmission lines, d- our home wifi routers, e- our cell phones, and more besides.

    5- The concerns about plastics would be the same if they were heated in other conventional manners. None of that garbage is specific to the microwave oven.

    I hope some day environmental writers will grow brains altogether, and learn something about their subject. This article is the perfect example of how they don’t know anything about the subjects they write about, nor do they care to learn.

  • laguna_greg

    Thank you Malcolm!

  • laguna_greg

    Or the high-level radiation from the sun and space that makes its way to our planet’s surface!

  • laguna_greg

    It doesn’t have to, Scruffy. Its prejudices are just dripping from every paragraph enough to make you scared about about a tool that is rather harmless.

  • laguna_greg

    You are highly suggestible, Kerry. You need therapy for your garden variety phobia and paranoia, and possibly medication. Don’t use a microwave until you get you psychosocial issues in order.

  • laguna_greg

    You are ridiculous.

  • laguna_greg

    No, but we know that yours has. You should have done something about that by now.

  • laguna_greg

    Boy you really don’t know how to use the thing do you? Take a class or something.

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    Great you managed to string three words together, with no explanation, no references and a big fuck you. Well done. Give your self an ignorant pat on the back.

  • laguna_greg

    Thanks for proving my point for me!

  • laguna_greg

    So Dr Group! You wrote this piece of tripe? Thank you for adding more superstition, anti-scientific thought, and even a few outright lies to an already turgid and hysterical discussion!

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    Oh yes I am not mocking you. Give yourself a pat on the back. You win. You win so much. You win the internet for your amazing research and debating skills.

  • kiwi-ian

    2 points.

    Dr Group has completely confused the issue of radiation and in doing so has come to conclusions that cannot be relied on. Some forms of radioactivity are also forms of radiation but radiation and radioactivity are NOT the same thing. Light and radiant heat are also forms of radiation and we would die without them!

    So some radiation is not only beneficial but essential for life.

    Secondly, he gives a paragraph on “clues” that exist. Don’t heat breast milk in the MW oven. You have to go to the source to see that’s it’s because of hot spots, not radiation. You shouldn’t reheat breast milk in a sauce pan, frying pan or grill either, for similar reasons.

    Blood isn’t routinely heated in a MW oven, but again it’s not heated in saucepans, frying pans or grills either and again for the same reasons.

    Gourmet restaurants DO often have MW ovens, they just don’t tell you.

    Based on Dr Group’s confused opinions, you should not expose yourself to light or heat and you must not use sauce pans, frying pans or grills to cook.

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