Friday, August 31, 2007

Discredited: Microwaving Food in Plastic Does Not Cause Cancer

A long time ago, an old friend gave me a tongue lashing for heating up food on a plastic plate in the microwave. Let me add, this friend practically lives on the Internet.

Free Image Hosting at"Never ever never use plastic to heat up food in the microwave," she admonished. The proverbial they have conducted medical studies, she continued, "proving microwave rays release carcinogens into your food which is very very bad."

Yikes, I thought.**Gasp** Cancer.

I did my own research, diligently searching for appropriate articles. When the bulk of information seemed to confirm my friend’s admonishment, I decided to leap on the bandwagon. Scrupulously adhering to the prohibition against mixing food and plastic, preventing members of my immediate family from engaging in this seemingly innocent but dangerous practice, I bowed to the wisdom of the proverbial they. After all, they would know, wouldn’t they? These people must be experts if they’re conducting studies about such things. I vaguely recall my husband being extremely dubious, but eventually dropping the debate when he couldn’t cite any source of conflicting information. That’ll teach him for lacking the gift of automatic recall.

Well, today my husband is vindicated. According to Vaness Wasta, public relations officer for premier medical facility and Baltimore jewel, Johns Hopkins Hospital, I am neurotic. Only a neurotic person could believe a myth like the one about microwaved plastic. "Most people who come to us, looking to validate [the myth about microwaved plastic causing cancer], are skeptical of it," said Ms. Wasta. "But there are people who by nature are pretty neurotic and actually believe it."

Excuse me? Neurotic? I think not. Gullible maybe, but neurotic, no way. The more I blog, the more I realize how much disinformation is out there. It’s mind blowing, really. In the past, I certainly believed more of what I read on the Internet, but in my defense, even Snopes isn’t infallible.

Ms. Wasta, and I quote, says, "You think maybe older people are more gullible than younger people, but you find that younger people have grown up with the Internet, and it may be more difficult for them to figure out what a reliable source is." I guess I’ll just have to stop hanging around those younger people. They’re such a bad influence. For once, baby boomers rock.

As it turns out, microwaving food in plastic containers, or probably anything plastic does not cause cancer. Just another "myth from the Internet ooze," pronounces the local rag. As an aside, the local rag lately appears much more impressive. Less bias, better investigative reporting, better columnists. The shake up in their editorial staff seems to be paying off. I’m not ready to jump the fence completely, but if their publication continues this trend towards journalistic integrity, I may have to stop referring to it as "the local rag."

The article also debunks the Mayo Clinic myth concerning the egg, meat, and grapefruit diet, as well as the Harvard Medical School myth about cash for human testicles. Good to know. I don’t recall reading viral e-mails on these subjects. Then again, I delete anything that slips into my inbox without a proper subject heading.