Microwaved Foods and Cancer Risk

Last Modified: March 22, 2012


Do you think microwaving foods causes cancer?


Charles B. Simone, II, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine responds:

This is another great question. The short answer is no, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that microwaves cause cancer. However, microwaves to emit radiation that can theoretically be harmful. Standing away from the microwave while it is cooking, at least three feet but preferably farther, would decrease this theoretical risk. Additionally, there is some concern that heating certain types of plastics in a microwave can cause chemical changes to occur in the food. While there also is limited data on this topic, heating food in plastic containers would eliminate this risk. Please follow the microwave instructions regarding the types of containers that can be used in the microwave. Lastly, some have suggested that people can be harmed by eating food heated from the inside out, as is done in a microwave, versus eating food heated from the outside in. This has not been shown to be a true cause of concern. So, if you do have concerns, try to stand away from the microwave and use glass containers.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Cancer Risk & Prevention Webchat transcript.