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Microwaves and Plastic - A Dangerous Combination

by Cindy Gray

Plastic containers and microwave ovens may seem like they were made for each other, but scientists have now finding that heating food in plastic containers in a microwave oven can cause high blood pressure, affect fertility, and brain damage; among other horrifying side effects.  It appears that heating plastic containers, in a microwave or dishwasher, releases these chemicals in 95% of cases in tests.

What Happens When Plastics meet Microwaves?

Heating food in the microwave, particularly fatty foods, has been shown to release hazardous dioxins and poisonous toxins from plastic containers. It is also listed as one of the main high blood pressure causes which can also lead to heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and even death.

Plastic containers, even those labelled "microwave safe", often contain phthalates, which are not something you would willingly ingest. Phthalates include gender-altering chemicals that cause males to become more effeminate. In animals, exposure to phthalates chemicals caused low sperm count, testicular cancer, genital deformation and infertility in many species including deer, otters, whales and polar bears.

In humans, phthalates have been linked to premature births and neurobehavioral problems in infants exposed to the chemicals before birth. Other side effects of phthalates from plastics include high blood pressure and frequent urinating, which are associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is another common ingredient in plasticware. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor and high levels of this endocrine disruptor have been linked to changes in gender-specific behavior, hyperactivity, structural brain damage, impaired learning, early puberty, infertility, increased fat storage, increased prostate size and prostate cancer. 

Heating Microwaveable Containers Causes High Blood Pressure

Some responsible microwave container manufactures have switched to safer chemicals, using Diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) instead of di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP), an endocrine-disrupting phthalate blamed for reproductive toxicity. Although DINP and DIDP do not leach chemicals into food when reheating, they have now been linked to high blood pressure.

If you are concerned that using plastic in the microwave may be one your high blood pressure causes, switching to cling-film to reheat food may not be any safer. Cling-film contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which produces toxic dioxins during manufacturing. These are known carcinogens, as is styrene, according to the International Agency for the Research on Cancer. Styrene is found in Styrofoam food cartons, fast food trays and egg cartons. 

Related:  The Dangers of Cooking Oils

How to Avoid High Blood Pressure Caused by Reheating Toxic Plastics

The only way to avoid the dangers of high blood pressure and other serious health issues caused by microwaving food in plastic is to stop using plastic in microwaves. Instead, use Pyrex, ceramic or glass containers to reheat food. Alternatively, forego the speed and convenience of microwaving and use the oven, stove or cooktop to reheat food.  Commit to preparing healthy, delicious meals by using safe, natural heating methods. 

One thing's for sure, microwave ovens and plastic are a dangerous combination, especially for anyone who is pregnant or has high blood pressure. Causes of many serious health conditions including cancer may all be easily prevented by changing our cooking and reheating habits.

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