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Cancer - proof your microwave

Focused on Health - July 2012

microwave food cancerby Laura Nathan-Garner

Does using my microwave cause cancer? That’s a question we hear a lot.

Well, here’s some good news: using your microwave won’t give you cancer. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from toxic chemicals that can get into the food you microwave.

Here’s what you need to know about microwaving food and cancer risks.

Radiation from microwaves doesn’t raise your risk of cancer

Microwaves use non-ionizing radiofrequency. This low frequency radiation doesn’t have enough energy to directly damage your DNA and form a pre-cancerous cell.

And, that means you won’t get cancer from occasionally standing in front of the microwave when it’s turned on. It also means microwaving your food won’t make your food radioactive.

But always follow the heating instructions that came with your microwave, says the American Cancer Society. Not following these instructions and using your microwave improperly could raise your risk of burns or cataracts.

microwave food cancerMicrowave food in glass or ceramic containers

No matter what you’re heating or cooking in the microwave, it’s best to avoid using plastic containers. That’s because when you use plastic containers, toxic chemicals like Bisphenol-a (BPA) can get into liquids and food.

And, BPA may raise the risk for breast and prostate cancers. It also may cause reproductive and developmental problems.

Until researchers know more, play it safe by using ceramic or glass containers to microwave and store food.

So, go ahead and microwave your next meal. Just be sure to choose your container wisely.

Related Links
Magnetic Field Exposure and Cancer: Questions and Answers (National Cancer Institute)
Radiation Exposure and Cancer (American Cancer Society)
Radiation: Non-Ionizing and Ionizing (Environmental Protection Agency)
Your Environmental Safety Health Guide (MD Anderson)
Federal Report Looks at Risks from Plastics Chemical (American Cancer Society)

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center