Most of us use microwaves in every day life to heat pre-cooked food, to make coffee or tea and to even heat toddler food for the convenience factor.
How safe is it really though?
Various studies have sprung up over the years claiming everything from radiation impact on food, to burns achieved through the differential heat of the microwave process, to claims that the use of Micro-waves kills bacteria and pathogens on our food and structural alteration of the food that is micro-waved.
So, what is the answer?
Each study looks at one small aspect of using the microwave oven and the long term effects have not been demonstrated.
- Have there been people that have been burned through the microwave producing differential heat at high temperatures in microwaved food?
Yes, [1,2] and it is certainly not recommended to heat food or bottles for toddler or infants as they would be more susceptible to burns.
- Are there studies that suggest that radiation and heat impact on pathogenic bacteria?
Yes, [3,4] although the question as to the exact impact of radiation is unknown and how much radiation interferes with the cell surface structure of the food that you are trying to cook and the extent of interference with the nutritional content.
Some scientific data has been gathered regarding the detrimental effects of microwaves on the nutrients in your food:
- A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
- A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C  .
- In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer .
- A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form .
- Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria  .
The long term impact of eating micro-waved food is compared to other methods of cooking is unknown, however any denaturing of food in our already nutritionally challenged food chain should be examined.
Other articles and sites such as: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/18/microwave-hazards.aspx, and
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/health-hazards-to-know-about/microwave-ovens-the-proven-dangersadvocate the danger associated with micro-wave use.
If you care about your food, the method how you prepare your food, taste and nutritional content of your broccoli then perhaps an alternative cooking method might be best for you.
What have we done?
A number of families have decided to get rid of our microwaves, after all, what’s the point in spending extra money of organic ingredients to have the very essence of nutrition fully or partially negated in the act of convenience cooking.
 Wakefield, Y., Pemberton M.N. Oro-facial thermal injury caused by food heated in microwave
oven. Dent Update. 2009 Jan-Feb;36(1):26-7.
 Budd, R. Burns associated with the use of microwave ovens. J Microw Power Electromagn
 Atmaca S, Akdag Z, Dasdag S, Celik S. Effect of microwaves on survival of some bacterial
strains. Acta Microbiol Immunol Hung. 1996;43:371–378.
 Im-Sun Woo, In-Koo Rhee, and Heui-Dong Park. Differential Damage in Bacterial Cells by
Microwave Radiation on the Basis of Cell Wall Structure Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 May;
66 (5): 2243–2247.
 Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible
parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking” Journal of the Science of Food and
Agriculture (15 Oct 2003) 83(14);1511-1516
 Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B 1999:49(2):110-117.
 Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal
of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S
 Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Abe K, Tamura Y, and Nakano Y. J. Agric. Food Chem. Feb 26
 Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,”
Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669.