If you’re perpetually shoving those plastic boxes with leftovers from dinner into the the microwave, then we may have some bad news for you! Studies across the world have attempted to ascertain if microwaved plastic poses health risks, and there have been some interesting findings.
Misleading “Microwave Safe” Labels
A plastic container that has been labeled ‘microwave-safe’ is simply one that won’t melt or break off when used for heating. However, chemicals from plastic would still be able to leach into your food while you’re heating it-which essentially means you aren’t ‘safe’ from the health risks that these chemicals carry.
Debunking The Myth
One of the earliest debates around using plastic containers for heating food centered on the assumption that microwaved plastic released cancer-causing chemicals called dioxins. This assumption has been disproved as a complete myth because plastic does not even contain dioxins. However, it does contain certain chemical components associated with other health problems.
Chemicals To Be Cautious Of:
Studies have shown that the components to be most cautious of are phthalates and BPA. In fact, these components of plastic are referred to as endocrine disruptors because of their tendency or disrupt endocrine functions such as metabolism and also affect the levels of reproductive hormones in the body.
Some studies have linked phthalates to disturbed reproductive functions such as lowered sperm quality in men. They have also been associated with troubling health issues in children and adolescents, including an increased risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
It is also believed that these chemicals have adverse effects on the developing baby when pregnant women are exposed to them. There is growing evidence that links exposure to phthalates with reproductive deformities in growing fetuses.
Bisphenol A or BPA has been associated with diverse health problems, one of which is a disruption in normal hormone functions. A study has also linked exposure to high levels of BPA with impaired fetal development while others have also found its link to serious conditions like obesity and diabetes.
Reduce The Risk!
Though the debate is still on for most part and nothing conclusive has been determined, what’s for sure is that glass and ceramic are much better alternatives to use when reheating food in the microwave. It is especially important to throw away ‘microwave-safe’ plastic containers if they’ve been scratched or if there are signs of a discoloration.
It may take a little more effort for you to put those leftovers in a new container before popping them in the microwave, but given the health risks, we’d say it’s definitely a better and safer idea!