Microwave ovens are safe for most people, but in rare cases they can cause cancer. This was stated by the oncologist, candidate of medical sciences Ivan Karasev. Izvestia found out why household appliances can be dangerous to health, when food should not be heated in the microwave, and whether long phone calls can lead to swelling in the head.
As the doctor explained, Cancer develops from body cells that have genetic mutations. Such cells arise daily in huge numbers, and the immune system fights them. But at a certain moment, if a person’s defense system misses the “enemy”, the development of a tumor begins.
Radiation, smoking, viruses and hereditary predisposition can cause this process.
As for microwaves, their main “tool” is electromagnetic waves. The same waves come from mobile phones, only in a microwave oven they seem to be “locked inside”. And if a normal, high-quality oven “physically cannot cause any diseases,” then with faulty equipment, such risks increase.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexander Kryazhev
In addition, the doctor added when using a microwave oven, it is important to follow the safety instructions. In particular, it indicates the distance at which it is better to stay from the furnace for one hundred percent safety. Usually it is about 50 cm.
– There are publications about how non-compliance with this rule reflected on fast food vendors in small kiosks. In them, the sellers were constantly 5-10 cm from the microwave oven, located at the counter at the level of the pelvis. Among them, then they noticed an increased incidence of malignant tumors of the reproductive system,” said Ivan Karasev.
But at home, cancer cannot be obtained in this way. Therefore, you should not be afraid of microwave ovens, especially good and high-quality ones.
History of microwaves
The world’s first microwave oven was released in 1947 in the USA. It was very different from modern devices: it weighed more than 30 kg and was almost 2 m tall. The oven, valued at $5,000, was used by the military to quickly defrost food.
Until the early 1960s, other companies began to make microwaves, but they were still expensive and heavy, so they were used mainly in restaurants. The first ovens designed for the home were created by Raytheon in 1976 – they cost only $ 495 and were slightly larger than modern ones.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Andrey Alexandrov
In the USSR, microwave ovens appeared in the late 70s – early 80s of the last century. Despite the fact that Russians have been using them for almost half a century and almost every family has microwave ovens, this technique still raises safety questions among people.
— The principle of operation of a microwave oven is simple: it heats food to a depth of 3-4 cm. And the inside warms up a little later, due to the heating of the outside. This happens due to the polarization of the water molecule in the heated dishes. It builds water molecules along the lines of the electromagnetic field,” tech blogger Pavel Trukhachev explains to Izvestia.
A microwave oven bought in a trusted store is completely shielded, which means that it cannot harm a person during its work. However, if the coating of the microwave inside, as well as its membrane or door mesh, is damaged, then it is better to refuse to use the device, the tech blogger notes.
How to test a microwave oven
Considering that the risks of developing cancer appear when using a faulty or low-quality microwave, it is best to check kitchen appliances. To do this, you need to understand how it meets safety standards, says Inga Davtyan, a nutritionist, an expert on the Helper House brand of the Stack Profi Company.
– Microwave ovens are considered safe, where radiation leakage at a distance of up to 5 cm from the surface of the oven is allowed no more than 50 W / m². This information must be included in the manufacturer’s documentation. Never purchase a furnace with a broken body integrity – this directly affects the radiation leakagethe expert notes.
It is also important to follow the recommendations for the operation of the oven – for example, use only microwave-safe containers and do not use cracked products to avoid the release of harmful substances, adds nutritionist, member of the National Society of Dietitians and Nutritionists Olga Dekker.
It is dangerous to heat foods in a plastic dish in the microwave, as some of the synthetic substances get into the food. In addition, plastic releases chemicals that are harmful to health. Therefore, it is better to spread food from such containers on a plate.
Photo: Getty Images/BRETT STEVENS
– Almost all plastic is not suitable for heating in the microwave – it cannot be heated at temperatures above 80 degrees. But if the package has a marking in the form of a triangle and a number inside or a microwave sign, it means that it can be used in the microwave,” explains Inga Davtyan.
The doctor also encourages you to think about what kind of food you heat in the microwave. If it is fast food, fast food or semi-finished products, then the harm can come from the food itself.
According to Irina Oleinikova, Head of the Oncology Department of Antitumor Drug Therapy (Chemotherapy), in general, household appliances are unlikely to cause oncology, but they are quite capable of undermining human health.
For example, running an induction stove can exacerbate nervous system problems, re-boiling water in an electric kettle can mess with the normal functioning of the kidneys and liver due to the release of formaldehyde, watching TV at close range for a long time can cause headaches, and running an air conditioner can spread bacteria that form in it due to condensation, throughout the living space. And this is already fraught with the occurrence of allergies, cough and asthma.
That is why you need to follow the technique: for example, clean the air conditioner once or twice a month, do not boil water in the kettle twice and do not put plastic in the microwave.
Are smartphones harmful?
Smartphones have long become an integral part of human life. However, many still believe that these gadgets are also harmful to health (for example, during long calls a person “irradiates” his head), or believe that the phone should not be carried in a trouser pocket because of the risk of developing pelvic cancer.
As tech blogger Pavel Trukhachev explains, mobile communications produce electromagnetic waves, which are classified as non-ionizing radiation. These waves are much weaker than ultraviolet and gamma radiation. Therefore, the smartphone cannot cause significant harm.
— Studies to find a possible link between radiation and the development of brain tumors have been carried out many times. But a reliable connection was never obtained, says Anastasia Timoshchenko, a therapist. — The influence of the smartphone on sleep was also studied: there is no direct influence here, but an indirect one is quite likely. If in the evening we actively communicate on it, watch social networks or news in bed, then there may be problems with falling asleep.
Photo: Izvestiya/Mikhail Tereshchenko
Of course, this is not due to the radiation of the gadget, but to the overexcitation of the nervous system, the doctor notes. The backlight from a smartphone in the dark also affects the speed of falling asleep, because prolonged exposure to light can slow down the production of the sleep hormone.
As a solution, somnologists recommend limiting the use of smartphones at least an hour before going to bed.
As for the influence of gadgets on the reproductive system, the connection has not been proven here either, says the interlocutor of Izvestia. In this case, factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and bad habits can have a much stronger effect.
Gadgets and vision
If we talk about TVs, computers, smartphones and other technology, it is important to understand whether it harms vision and in what cases.
As an ophthalmologist of the highest category, the founder of the Spektr clinic, Arseniy Kozhukhov, explains to Izvestia, vision is arranged in such a way that when viewing objects at a distance, the muscles of the eyes do not strain, while close examination of objects requires tension of the intraocular muscles. Therefore, the whole day spent at the computer, and the evening spent on the phone, deprive the eyes of the opportunity to rest.
“Brightness of the screen, its size, distance from the eyes, lighting and the position in which we work or study are of great importance,” says the doctor. – In addition to the stress during the day, the fact that a person starts blinking less often is connected, and this leads to a violation of the natural moistening of the eye. It, in turn, leads to symptoms such as dry eyes, irritation, fatigue, and the appearance of dry eye syndrome. It is impossible to lose sight in this case, but a decrease in visual acuity, a regular feeling of eye fatigue and discomfort will accompany you with a very high probability.
The safe distance to the TV (if it is not very small) the doctor calls 3-4 m. Therefore, if your child likes to watch it while sitting very close, it is better to wean it: otherwise, the children’s visual system will begin to adapt vision to close distances and myopia may appear .
It is better to work at a computer at a distance of at least 60–70 cm, while 85 Hz is considered the best screen refresh rate. The monitor should be at eye level, more precisely, slightly above the middle of the screen. If the computer is above eye level, it leads to eye strain and eye muscle fatigue.
Photo: Izvestia / Kristina Kormilitsyna
Books and gadgets should be read at a distance of 30 cm. According to the doctor, tablets and other devices with small screens are not suitable for watching movies and cartoons – this is bad for the visual system, especially for children. It is better to do it comfortably on the TV screen.
As for the time that is safe to spend behind the screen, it is different for children and adults.
– Children under three years old should generally refrain from getting acquainted with gadgets. The later you give your child a phone or tablet, the better it will be for both his visual system and the nervous system, says Arseniy Kozhukhov. — Children from 6 to 12 years old should not spend more than two hours playing games. Time must be demarcated: an hour in the afternoon, an hour in the evening, not two hours in a row. And even at this time it is worth taking rest breaks so that the eyes rest.
The doctor advises adolescents to spend no more than 3-4 hours on gadgets and a computer. At the same time, it is important to observe the distance from the screen, regular breaks and not play in the dark while lying down.
– In the case of adults, work at the computer is often necessary, and the time spent on it reaches 6-8 hours. In this case, it is worth taking regular breaks, looking into the distance, focusing and examining objects in detail at a long distance. And it is advisable to limit work or play in your free time– concludes the ophthalmologist.