The real dangers of microwaves

Despite being a common kitchen appliance, a radiation expert advises keeping children away from microwaves. Photo / Getty
Despite being a common kitchen appliance, a radiation expert advises keeping children away from microwaves. Photo / Getty

It's a well-used item in many kitchens, but health experts say a microwave that is leaking radiation can cause a range of health problems.

Radiation expert Professor Magda Havas, of Trent University in the UK, says while microwaves are suposed to have mechanisms to protect against leaks, many still emit harmful radiation.

"I've tested over a dozen of the most popular brands, and every single one that I've tested has leaked," she told the Daily Mail.

As our bodies are largely made of water, they readily absorb radiation.

From promoting cataracts to leading to changes in blood vessels, she described the ways regular use of microwaves may be harming our health.

Cataracts

While there are conflicting opinions on the dangers of microwave use, many scientists agree they can be a factor in causing cataracts.

A common cause of poor vision in people over the age of 40, the condition leads to blindness.

"Standing in front of your oven watching your food go around unequivocally causes cataracts," Professor Havas told the Daily Mail. "If you do it over and over and over again you will damage your eyes."

Cancer

There can be a range of carcinogens present in a microwaved meal.

Microwaveable food contains specific chemicals to aid the process, such as BPA, polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene - which have all been linked to cancer.

Plastic containers also leak carcinogens when they are heated in the microwave.

Heart problems

As part of her research, Professor Havas monitored the heart rate of people standing near microwave ovens.

In what she determined as "unequivocal evidence" that microwave frequency affects the heart, every person monitored experienced a variation in heart rate while the oven was on.

Blood vessel changes

A Swiss study found people who ate microwaveable meals experienced a drop in red blood cells, and a rise in white blood cells and cholesterol levels.

A health expert advises leaving the room when the microwave is on, to help protect against leaked radiation. Photo / Getty
A health expert advises leaving the room when the microwave is on, to help protect against leaked radiation. Photo / Getty

How to avoid the dangers

Despite her research findings, Professor Havas does own a microwave, but says she uses it in a specific way.

To protect against radiation, she recommends leaving the room when the microwave is on.

"If you're going to use it, go out of the kitchen, she told the Daily Mail. "Don't just stand on the other side of a wall, really walk away. The waves travel through walls so you are still at risk."

She also advises using the microwave only when children are well away from the appliance.

-nzherald.co.nz

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