How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 311

Are microwaves harmful to you? Is eating microwaved food harmful?
Microwaves can heat your body by adding thermal energy to the water molecules in you. This heating can be damaging if it's not controlled. Most of your body is protected from slow heating because your blood carries heat away from any local hot spots so that you warm evenly. However there are a few places that aren't cooled by your circulation and can heat up locally enough to denature the protein molecules and cause biological injury. The cornea of your eye is a good example. It can be heated and damaged because it's not cooled well. That's why you must be careful not to look into a strong beam of microwaves. As for microwaved food, the only effect of cooking with microwaves is hot food. There is no "radiation damage" or "radioactivity," as there might be with x-ray or gamma radiation. Some foods should not be cooked in a microwave only because the uneven heating may allow certain parts to become too hot. Those parts may burn you when you eat them or they may suffer thermal damage that diminishes their nutritional value.

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