question-icon

Are microwave radiations harmful?

default
Posted on Wed, 23 Nov 2016
Question: This past year I have been using the microwave a lot to heat food, including brewing tea and heating room-temperature water many times throughout the day. Prior to that I never used a microwave. Only today did I realize that the plastic container I used to reheat beef roast was not designated microwave-safe, and while eating the food, I noticed tiny, white chunks (though very small number present) that I assumed to be some part of the beef (i.e. protein, fat). Only after I finished eating did I find out about the problem: that the container wasn't microwave-safe so I'm worried that harmful chemicals from the plastic leached into my food after heating the container at maximum power for 4.5 minutes, and that I even ate very minuscule pieces of plastic. I'm otherwise a healthy 19-year old female (though I did live last year across from my whole dorm's laundry room, so was not very happy about having to "smell laundry detergent" 24/7 for a year...another possible carcinogenic risk/endocrine disruptor that I'm worried about. Thank you for your attention!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (37 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Thoughts on this.

Detailed Answer:
Hello XXXXXXX

I can understand your concern. I think and am concerned about toxins that we encounter in our every day modern life, too.

The problem is that many of these things have not been studied thoroughly, so there isn't data on the amount of exposure necessary to cause problems and what to do about it. (And as much of the medically related research is done by pharmaceuticals, environmental exposures such as from synthetic substances, often goes unstudied.)

We do know that softer plastics break down into monomers (that can be toxic by producing free radicals and mimicking estrogens) when exposed to high heat and to ultraviolet light.

If the (non-microwavable) plastic container you've been using to reheat things looks like it is intact, it's likely that not much got into your food. A small amount may have leeched into your food, but it is unlikely that it would cause problems for you given that this hasn't been an ongoing thing for a long time. Our immune systems can clean up most free radical damage. You can consider taking a free radical absorbing vitamin such as Vitamin E (only use fresh, not one that a roommate had from a year ago) for a few days. Again, I wish I had an exact amount and number of days for you to do this, but I don't because there isn't research on it.

But consider this:
You are 19 and you are healthy so your immune system is in good shape and can deal with toxins.
It would likely take a lot of repeated exposures to cause damage over time, and from what you described, that isn't the situation.

A good diet (lots of veggies) and exercise can go a long way to keeping us healthy even in the presence of the potentially harmful things we encounter.

I hope this information helps.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3134 Questions

premium_optimized

The User accepted the expert's answer

Share on
Are microwave radiations harmful?

Brief Answer: Thoughts on this. Detailed Answer: Hello XXXXXXX I can understand your concern. I think and am concerned about toxins that we encounter in our every day modern life, too. The problem is that many of these things have not been studied thoroughly, so there isn't data on the amount of exposure necessary to cause problems and what to do about it. (And as much of the medically related research is done by pharmaceuticals, environmental exposures such as from synthetic substances, often goes unstudied.) We do know that softer plastics break down into monomers (that can be toxic by producing free radicals and mimicking estrogens) when exposed to high heat and to ultraviolet light. If the (non-microwavable) plastic container you've been using to reheat things looks like it is intact, it's likely that not much got into your food. A small amount may have leeched into your food, but it is unlikely that it would cause problems for you given that this hasn't been an ongoing thing for a long time. Our immune systems can clean up most free radical damage. You can consider taking a free radical absorbing vitamin such as Vitamin E (only use fresh, not one that a roommate had from a year ago) for a few days. Again, I wish I had an exact amount and number of days for you to do this, but I don't because there isn't research on it. But consider this: You are 19 and you are healthy so your immune system is in good shape and can deal with toxins. It would likely take a lot of repeated exposures to cause damage over time, and from what you described, that isn't the situation. A good diet (lots of veggies) and exercise can go a long way to keeping us healthy even in the presence of the potentially harmful things we encounter. I hope this information helps.