It isn’t just the poor quality of the food we buy which makes us ill – damaging our immune systems and making us vulnerable to infections and to cancer.
The way we prepare our food can also have a dramatic effect on our health. Overcooking food can destroy the vitamin content, for example.
And consider the microwave oven.
There are millions of microwave ovens in use around the world. Unlike traditional ovens they work by using short wave electromagnetic radiation to heat up food.
But, although microwave ovens are widely sold, widely used and sit in millions of kitchens heating (and affecting) the food that people eat, neither governments nor manufacturers seem keen to provide or publish information showing exactly how safe these products are.
In my book Food for Thought (first published in 1994) I asked specific questions about microwave ovens.
The first questions were: ‘Are the waves that are used to do the cooking harmful to human beings?’ and ‘If any of the microwaves escape from the oven will they harm your health?’
The other question, possibly even more alarming, was even simpler: ‘Does using a microwave oven affect the food you at in any harmful way?’
I found that even though the manufacturers didn’t seem to have done much research work there was, nevertheless quite a good amount of research available.
In 1998 The Journal of Natural Science published an extremely significant paper dealing with the effects of microwaves on humans. The paper, was written by William Kopp, who worked at the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in Portland, Oregon from 1977 to 1979 and who, while working there, gathered together early documents detailing what was then known about the harmful effects of microwave ovens on human beings.
By writing this paper Kopp annoyed a powerful lobby. According to the Journal of Natural Science he subsequently changed his name and disappeared. This may sound dramatic but I have met another researcher who examined the dangers of microwave ovens who has been subjected to threats, and whose attempts to publicise the truth about microwave ovens has been met with lawsuits and other attempts to silence him.
Kopp reported that microwave ovens were originally developed by the Nazis for use by mobile support operations during the planned invasion of the Soviet Union. The aim was to eliminate the logistical problem of finding cooking fuels – as well as to cut down cooking times. The initial German research was conducted by the Germans in 1942-3 at the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin.
After the end of World War II, wrote Kopp, the Allies discovered the medical research which related to microwave ovens. Experimental microwave equipment was transferred both to the US War Department and to the Soviet Union for investigation. In the Soviet Union research work was done at the Institute of Radio Technology at Kinsk and the Institute of Radio Technology at Rajasthan.
It was in the Soviet Union that most of the research was done and published. And it was the Soviet Union, reported Kopp, which found that a human did not even need to ingest microwaved food substances to be in danger, because even exposure to the energy field itself was sufficient to cause serious adverse side effects.
Kopp pointed out that Soviet scientists were so alarmed about the hazards associated with microwave ovens that the Soviet Union produced a state law in 1976 which forbad the use of any microwave apparatus.
Here is a list of some of the adverse effects listed by the Soviet scientists back in the 1970s as having been observed when human beings were exposed to microwaves.
- A destabilisation in the production of hormones and the maintenance of hormone balance in both males and females.
- Brainwave disturbance in the alpha, theta and delta wave signal patterns.
- A breakdown of the human ‘life energy field’.
- A degeneration and destabilisation of internal cellular membrane properties.
- A degeneration and breakdown of electrical nerve impulses within the cerebrum.
- A long term cumulative loss of vital energies within humans, animals and plants which were located within a 500m radius of the operational equipment.
- Long lasting residual effects in the nervous system and lymphatic systems.
- Negative psychological effects (produced as a result of the brain wave pattern changes) which included: loss of memory, loss of ability to concentrate, changes in intellect and emotional responses and sleep disturbances.
More recently obtained evidence seems to confirm that the danger of microwave ovens is not confined to what happens to the food that is cooked inside them.
Despite the protective shields with which they may be fitted microwave ovens give out extra low frequency electromagnetic fields which may be high enough to produce lymphatic cancer in children.
And when white blood cells are exposed to the sort of electromagnetic fields given out by microwave ovens their ability to fight disease may be reduced dramatically.
Back in the early 1990s there were already over 7,000 scientific publications in existence dealing with the health damage caused by short wave transmitters. The damage to cells and cell membranes caused by electromagnetic fields has been well known to scientists for years. (Although, naturally, the electrical and telecommunications industries have steadfastly followed the early example of the tobacco industry and denied that their products could possibly cause cancer or, indeed, any other serious health problem).
The scientists who examined food which had been cooked in microwave ovens came across a number of serious problems. Here is a summary, listed in William Kopp’s paper in the Journal of Natural Science of some of the serious changes which have been identified:
- In a statistically high percentage of persons, microwaved foods caused stomach and intestinal cancerous growths, as well as a gradual breakdown of the function of the digestive and excretive systems.
- When meat was heated sufficiently for eating a cancer causing agent was created.
- Cancer causing agents in milk and cereal grains were produced.
- Eating food that had been heated by microwave resulted in a higher percentage of cancer cells within the blood.
- Microwave emissions caused serious alterations to frozen fruits when they were thawed in a microwave oven.
- Changes took place in raw, cooked or frozen vegetables when they were exposed to microwaves for ‘extremely short’ periods of time.
- Because of chemical changes which had taken place in food that was heated in a microwave oven human lymphatic systems malfunctioned with a result that the human body did not adequately protect itself against some types of cancerous growth.
In addition, scientists have found that microwave heating also causes ‘significant decreases in the nutritive value of all foods researched’.
Among other serious problems they found that there was a drop in the availability of B complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and essential minerals in foods that had been heated in a microwave oven.
The September 1998 edition of The Journal of Natural Science contained yet more evidence drawing attention to the possible hazards associated with microwave ovens.
- In 1990 researchers in Berlin found that all the microwave ovens it tested emitted microwaves while operating.
- As far as microwaves are concerned the most sensitive part of the body is the lens in the eye. Anyone who operates a microwave oven (particularly at eye level) which leaks could go blind.
- Studies with broccoli and carrots have revealed that cell structures are destroyed in the microwave oven. (In conventional ovens the cell walls remain intact.)
- Cooking in a microwave oven creates free radicals – known to be a possible cancer trigger.
- Food cooked in a microwave oven may be cooked unevenly – leaving possible ‘cold spots’ inside the food. This may result in the possible development of listeria or salmonella infection.
- Water samples were heated, both conventionally and in a microwave oven. The water samples were then used to help grain germinate. Grain did not germinate when in contact with water which had been heated in a microwave oven.
- At the end of the 1980s it was reported that there was an increased incidence of malformations among children of mothers exposed to microwave ovens.
- In 1991 a patient in Oklahoma is alleged to have died of anaphylaxis after receiving a blood transfusion with blood warmed in a microwave oven. It is claimed that the microwave irradiation had altered the blood and thereby caused the patient’s death.
- Scientists have discovered that microwaving human breast milk at high temperatures produced a marked decrease in activity of all the tested anti-infective factors naturally present in breast milk. The growth of E.coli was 18 times that observed in normal human breast milk.
- In 1989 the Swiss biologist Dr Hans Hertel, together with another researcher, conducted a study on the effects of microwaved food which proved that food which had been cooked in a microwave oven caused significant changes in the blood. The authors noted that these changes indicated the beginning of a pathological process (e.g. the beginning of cancer). Afterwards the second researcher, who had worked with Dr Hertel, disassociated himself from the results and his earlier interpretation of the results. In a private letter to Dr Hertel the second researcher admitted that he feared ‘consequences’ and that the safety of his family was more important to him than anything else.
The October/November 1998 issue of Nexus magazine reported that a physicist had presented research showing that the human body generates and emits its own low intensity radiation.
The physicist claimed that the human body’s metabolism generates its own electromagnetic field. The weak emissions of light which are produced by the body are an outward sign of an orderly, functioning metabolism. This research opens up another series of questions about the effect external sources of microwave radiation may have on living tissues.
Back in the 1990s it seemed perfectly clear to me that microwave ovens should be banned. And any such ban should only be lifted if the manufacturers were prepared to do research which either showed that these original research findings were inaccurate or showed that there are ways to counteract the problems.
But even then the manufacture and sale of microwave ovens was big business and these convenient items have become fixtures in canteens, restaurants, hotels and homes all over the world.
In The Journal of Natural Science Dr Hertel points out that: ‘...research of the biological effects of electromagnetic fields on life, especially connected with technical microwaves, is successfully being suppressed. Such research projects are, therefore, only possible on a private basis while the relevant authorities do everything they can to keep the findings from the public, denying them, making them look ridiculous or dismissing them as non-scientific.’
I believe that Dr Hertel was absolutely right.
Mainstream newspapers, magazines, television and radio have consistently ignored or denied the threat posed by microwave ovens. Politicians have refused to ask for these devices to be properly tested. In my experience, attempts to publicise the possible hazards (and the fact that the industry making and selling microwave ovens has never done adequate testing on the effects on human health) seem to have been met with more concern for the health of the microwave industry than for the health and safety of consumers.
Back in January 1990 I warned, in a newspaper article, that thousands could die every year from the effect of food cooked in microwave ovens. I pointed out that it could be many years before the damage done by microwave ovens could be fully assessed and added that I was appalled that manufacturers had not fully tested microwave ovens.
In the UK the BBC broadcast a programme attacking me for this warning and blaming me as the source of a ‘scare’ about the heating of milk in microwave ovens. My offer to appear on the programme to discuss the issue and defend my point of view was rejected.
My complaint about the BBC’s Food and Drink programme was duly upheld by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission which described the BBC programme as unfair.
These days, the risks associated with microwave ovens appear to have been pretty well hushed up.
There is a good deal of reassurance available. But sadly not much in the way of research.
The only people who would pay for such research are the people making microwave ovens.
And why would they pay for research which might be an embarrassment, to say the least?
Based on a chapter in the book Meat causes Cancer and more Food for Thought by Vernon Coleman, available as a paperback and an eBook on Amazon.