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To Zap Or Not To Zap: Comparative Study About Food Prepared Conveniently And The Microwave Oven
By Consuelo Reyes

For those who count among their daily blessings the conveniehce of zapping food in a microwave oven, the following information may give pause. Perhaps a few seconds saved are not worth the toll of time...

Every day people all around the world subject the food they eat to a type of hard electromagnetic radiation known as microwave. These are technically produced microwaves, such as generated by microwave ovens, creating frictional heat based on the principle of alternating current. Even in milliwatts this is a powerful and violent force, compelling every living particle in its path-atom, molecule, cell-to reverse polarity 1-100 billion times per second. Naturally occurring microwaves, on the other hand, such as emitted from the sun, work on pulsed direct current and create no frictional heat in organic systems.

Today the microwave oven is practically a standard feature in homes, restaurants, offices and airplanes, enabling people to heat, eat and barely skip a beat from their hectic lives. But what of the effects on the human body of eating foods thwacked by such a force?

While much scientific research has focused on the direct effects of microwaves on living beingsthe hazards of which, for instance, have caused concern about radiation leakage from mi6rowave ovensvery little has been said about the indirect effects of microwaves on human health, as when microwaved foods are eaten. This question is addressed for perhaps the first time in a new study, presented in a recent issue of raum & zeit and authored by Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and University, Institute for Biochemistry, and Hans U. Hertel, Environmental-Biological Research and Consultation. The results are significant and disturbing.

The basic design of the study was as follows: 8 test persons, on a strict diet of natural foods, were given one of 8 food variants on an empty stomach over intervals of 2-5 days. Blood samples were drawn immediately before, 15 minutes after and 2 hours later. Food variants were also examined for biochemical alterations. The testing continued for a 2 month period. The food variants were:

  1. raw milk from a bio-farm
  2. the same milk conventionally-cooked
  3. pasteurized milk
  4. the same raw milk cooked in the microwave
  5. raw vegetables from a bio-farm
  6. the same vegetables conventionally cooked
  7. the same vegetables deep frozen and defrosted in the microwave
  8. the same vegetables cooked (well-done) in the microwave.

The results of the examination of the food variants themselves revealed, according to Blanc and Hertel, that milk cooked in the microwave shows alterations not seen in other variants in some important areas: acidity increases, which, the researchers state, is consistent with the effects of other technically caused stressors, e.g. poisons, radiations, on natural substances such as soil, air and water, sediment increases, indicating a strain on protein-stability which was clearly greater than found in all other cooking processes; a tendency toward over-sized fat globules which the scientists suggest could be due to lumping of fats after destruction of cell membranes; a decrease in folic acid, a vitamin necessary for blood-building; an apparent increase in vitamins A and C, which are normally difficult to detect in raw milk, prompting Blanc and Hertel to postulate that microwaving may unmask or change them in some way so that an increase is measured; microwaved milk was more highly charged with radiation energy, according to research findings, than other foods. This was measured by the ability of luminescent bacteria in the presence of microwaved milk to maintain luminosity longer than with other variants, suggesting that such energies can be transferred to other living beings, such as humans, who drink the milk.

Among the changes observed in microwaved vegetables, the authors noted losses of more than 20% of the juices, resulting in somewhat lower energy value. A significantly higher degree of luminosity in luminescent bacteria was also seen than in conventionally prepared variants.

As for the effects on test persons, after the intake of all foods heated, defrosted or cooked in the microwave oven, tendencies were observed which, according to Blanc and Hertel, "in some essential points are, according to 'Rank,' statistically significant." Generally speaking, blood analyses showed anemic tendencies and a pattern of stress which became more pronounced over the course of the trial period with repeated administration of test foods. More specifically, their findings include the following:

Erythrocytes, the red blood cells, tended to in- crease with vegetables defrosted in the microwave. The researchers explain that this may be because "along with other blood factors, erythrocytes can be mobilized under stress, possibly from the spleen, and to thereby temporarily increase in the blood." However, they note, that prolonged stress can have the opposite effect and result in an anemic condition."

Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying part of the blood, tended to decrease with microwaved milk and most significantly with microwaved vegetables. The authors state that "decreases of hemoglobin are commonly considered as signs of an existing stress situation." The hemoglobin-concentration (MCHC) and the hemoglobin content (MCH) showed similar anemic tendencies, at times reaching statistical significance. Blanc and Hertel note that such decreases have been observed "with microcytosis, toxic reactions (e.g. chemicals and radiations) that may lead in time to rheumatism, fever, pituitary insufficiency, etc." Hematocrit values, on the other hand, increased with microwaved vegetables, at times to a statistically significant degree, "an indication," according to Blanc and Hertel, "of acute toxicity compared to low hematocrit values, which can be indicative of chronic conditions."

Leukocytes, a type of white blood cell mobilized for the immune response, on the other hand, increase to a greater degree with microwaved variants than all others. "Leukocyte response, " the authors state, "is especially sensitive to stress...This marked increase could just be the effect of a stress situation caused by the microwave-irradiated food." Lymphocytes, another type of white blood cell, which are known to decrease in response to external stress (e.g. poisons), registered a pronounced though temporary decrease with vegetables prepared in the microwave.

According to common scientific belief, cholesterol levels usually change slowly over time. After the intake of microwaved vegetables, however, a rapid increase in cholesterol values, especially HDL and LDL, was observed, while with milk, cholesterol remained the same, even decreasing significantly with raw milk. The researchers found this very interesting observation consistent with current scientific information that "cho1estprÚ1 may rapidly increase in the blood secondary to acute stress...(and that blood cholesterol levels) are less influenced by cholesterol content of food than by stress-causing factors...(including) technical radiation and toxic substances." Blanc and Hertel also note that "cancer patients seem to always show pronounced increases of cholesterol-levels in the blood..(which) could, therefore, be an indication of a beginning or already existing cancerous process."

Tests done to determine the luminescent power of bacteria in contact with serum from test subjects after consuming microwaved foods were "significantly higher" than with serum from test persons after eating other food variants. The authors infer, therefore, that the possibility of a transfer of radiation energy from microwaved foods to living beings must be taken into account.

In sum, Blanc and Hertel conclude that their data measuring the effects of microwaved foods on human beings reveal changes in blood profile "indicative of an early pathogenic process, similar to the actual start of cancer," and, therefore, that microwaves can be hazardous to man directly as well as indirectly via microwaved foods.

To zap or not to zap? I find myself thinking of the Faustian pact with the devil, but with a twist: while the medieval philosopher sold his soul for knowledge and power, we barter our lives for seconds seemingly saved, hoping not to know what we've really bargained for.

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