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Do Microwaves Change the Molecular Structure of Food?.
by Matt Moody, Ph.D.

This Myth is wide-spread; my research shows that there are more people perpetuating this Myth compared to those who are busting it. Why? Because the average person is NOT educationally equipped to evaluate this issue, but when we learn some facts about physics from an expert, this Myth quickly goes away.

One reason why some people believe this Myth is because of ideas suggested by science-fiction movies: Consider the lethal effects of "ray guns" used by Flash Gordon, the destructive effects of "phasers" from Star Trek and "blasters" in Star Wars. Such fictional influence plants an erroneous impression: that invisible microwaves may be capable of altering the molecular structure of food (or water) — and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Knowing a few facts about physics is the key to overcoming this Myth. I found a highly credible source with the expertise to know exactly what Microwaves are and how they effect food:

Louis A. Bloomfield earned a Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford. He is the author of the book, "How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary." Bloomfield is a Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia. Bloomfield answers this specific question:

Do microwaves change the molecular structure and composition of food, by ejecting some electrons from atoms and forming cancer-causing free radicals?

"Microwaves don't affect the molecular structure of the food, except through the thermal effects we associate with normal cooking (e.g., denaturing of proteins with heat and caramelizing of sugars). That's because, like all electromagnetic waves, microwaves are emitted and absorbed as particles called "photons." The energy in a microwave photon is so tiny that it can't cause any chemical rearrangement in a molecule. Instead, it can only add a tiny amount of heat to a water molecule." Here's his whole answer, and here is more about Bloomfield's credentials.

Concerning the effects of Microwaves on Water, the fact-checking website "Snopes" debunked the claims of an Email that pictured two plants: one that was given microwaved water and a second plant that received purified water.


Over the course of 9 days, as you can see, the plant given microwaved-water shriveled and died, supposedly due to the adverse effects of "microwaved water," according to the Erroneous Email.

But Snopes replicated this "watering" experiment with nine 9 healthy plants of three 3 different plant varieties — with each receiving three 3 different water supplies:

                    3 plants given unboiled room-temperature water
                    3 plants given microwave-boiled water, cooled to room temperature
                    3 plants given stove-top boiled water, cooled to room temperature

The person watering the plants didn't know which water was which. In scientific method, this is called "double-blind" — the experimenter is blind to knowing variables versus placebos and so are the subjects. This eliminated any possible "green thumb" effect, where certain plants receive MORE care and attention from the waterer — possibly, deep down an experimenter may hope the final results will match his or her bias going in. But well-trained experimenters simply don't do "bias."

Of course, true scientists only hope to get valid results: that FACTS will be revealed and be accurately documented.

In valid experiments it's vital that both experimenters and subjects be blind, else results will be skewed due to the Heisenberg Effect, as well as the Acquiescence Effect — where willing subjects try to help experimenters by giving them what they think they want. Experimenters assure valid results when Subjects are NOT informed of the variables under observation, OR the real purpose of the Experiment.

At the end of the plant-watering experiment, the "waterer" (who was blind to knowing which water was which) was asked to pick out the plants that faired best within each of three 3 watering groups, according to visual vitality: ironically, 2 out of 3 plants chosen to appear most healthy, were plants that received microwave-boiled water. Read the findings and see the photos at Snopes.

Related Articles: Does Microwaving Food in Plastic Containers & Wraps Cause Cancer?
Can Radio Frequency Waves emitted by Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

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