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Microwave Cooking is Killing You!
At this link you'll find a long essay ranting about the evils of microwave ovens. It claims that food cooked in a microwave, no matter what kind of food it is: "increases cholesterol, increases white blood cell numbers, decreases red blood cell numbers, and causes production of radiolytic compounds (compounds unknown in nature)". All sounds a bit dubious, but I'm actually more interested in one specific story told at the beginning of the article:

There was a lawsuit in 1991 in Oklahoma. A woman named Norma Levitt had hip surgery, but was killed by a simple blood transfusion when a nurse "warmed the blood for the transfusion in a microwave oven!" 

This seemed a bit unlikely to me, but a quick google search revealed that this same story, with almost the exact same wording, appears on many sites. So obviously this is a tale that the anti-microwave people have been spreading around. However, a little more searching reveals that the story isn't true. The incident did happen, but a jury found that Norma Levitt was killed by a blood clot, not by blood heated in a microwave.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Thu May 12, 2005
Comments (42)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
Umm...I heat frozen burritos in the microwave.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  08:40 AM
I cook almost everything in our microwave, as it has grill and oven functions too.

I've burnt myself pretty badly on stuff, but I wouldn't say it was killing me.
Posted by Boo  in  The Land of the Haggii...  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  08:50 AM
Cecil Adams has looked into this recently:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/050506.html

Net: microwave ovens are probably safe, but there are a few anomalies that aren't yet understood. As near as I can tell, though, the oddities which science has turned up aren't the same ones that most panic-stricken websites are concerned about.
Posted by cvirtue  in  deleted  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  09:31 AM
Take a gander at this woman's home page--it's an exhaustive compendium of paranoia and quackery. She even denigrates "quack-busters" in a couple of entries.

Before the internet these people were just nice, harmless kooks who lived in the little white house down the block.
Posted by ktownson  in  Slidell, LA  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:55 AM
And apparently garlic can desynchronise your brainwaves:
http://www.relfe.com/health_benefits_of_garlic.html

The whole site seems to be full of "product X is harmful and will KILL YOU; for just $14.95 you can buy ethical product Y from us, which will (possibly) NOT KILL YOU - can you afford to take that chance? What of your children?" kind of thing.

Horrible, dirty people.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  in  One after 909  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  01:39 PM
It's true...that's why we're all dead.
Posted by Gee...  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  06:14 PM
So before they put blood back into you, they pop it in the microwave?

Somehow that makes me kind of queasy.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  06:15 PM
Blood is NOT put in the mocro wave to warm up before being tranfused. The blood comes right from the blood bank, and started with in 1/2 an hour of taking it out of the fridge. A bag of saline is hung with it. And it goes through the IV tubing and warms up by the time it reaches the body. About 4-5 checks and triple checks are done by two nurses before the blood is even started. this lady was in the operating room. The blood was still brought right from the blood bank and started right away.
Posted by Chris  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  06:38 PM
Chris,

Can you not see the sentence, printed in blue because it's a link, that says... the story's NOT TRUE???
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:40 PM
When you click the link you can read the transcript from the case...

While I'm sure you're quoting "proper" procedure... apparently it was done in this case. Unless the transcript is a hoax!

ohh
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Thu May 12, 2005  at  10:42 PM
I've had to do plasma transfusions, and you have to thaw the plasma in a lukewarm water bath--the stuff is pretty delicate. It's hard to believe someone actually used a microwave to warm blood, but it was in the transcript, so...someone must have been that clueless.

The point is, just because microwaving would render a blood product useless/dangerous, doesn't mean it's dangerous to cook your food in it. Blood warmed in a regular oven might not be good to use either.
Posted by hippievet  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  12:08 AM
I actually worked at Hillcrest when this happened......it ran the rumor mill for MONTHS.....I was never able to verify the facts, but I can tell you that people who would have known the whole truth were saying the CRNA did in fact warm the blood in the microwave.....I also had the chance occurance of meeting one of the trial lawyers who represented Hillcrest Hospital in that case while I was living in Dallas several years later. He, of course, could not provide me with any details of the case.....
Posted by Carrie  in  OK  on  Fri May 13, 2005  at  09:34 PM
Here's one for ya: What's crusty and bubbly, scratches at the glass, has a big, fat, mouth, is too frickin skinny, has knobby knees, and refuses to acknowledge that the Iraq War was based on lie after lie? Answer: Anne Coulter in a microwave... Damn, I love political humor... What a psycho hose-beast.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat May 14, 2005  at  06:11 PM
Ookay. The thing about the blood in the microwave is linked to. It wasn't the heating it that caused the dmg...just to point that out, b/c it apparently hasn't been pointed out enough.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun May 15, 2005  at  11:18 AM
Did anyone take notice of this note that appeared at the bottom of the transcript: "1 Heating blood in this manner destroys the red blood cells, resulting in "gross hemolysis" of the blood, releasing large amounts of potassium. Excessive potassium, when introduced into the body, is often fatal. The practice of warming Intravenous (IV) fluids, other than blood, in the microwave was an accepted practice at Hillcrest Medical Center, as reflected in its written procedures."
Posted by J. D. Agliotta  in  PA  on  Mon Jun 20, 2005  at  04:16 PM
I don't know about any possible dangers of microwaves, but the nature of the people who rail against them speaks volumes. Wouldn't their tinfoil hats protect them anyway?

But there seems to be an error in the original message that speaks about the court case. 1: the jury didn't find that the woman died of a blood clot. From what I read that is simply what the defendants claimed. 2: one of the footnotes stated that microwaving blood causes the destruction of red blood cells releasing large amounts of potassium. Potassium is known for two major purposes - as a necessary dietary requirement in small amounts, and, in large amounts, as the substanced used to stop the heart in executions by lethal injection.

Apparently the woman's family still won the suit.
Posted by Dnison  in  Wisconsin  on  Sat Jul 09, 2005  at  09:22 PM
you may read the description of the case following the link
check it out
Posted by Youngone76  in  China  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  06:24 AM
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=ok&vol;=/appeals/1995/&invol=1995okcivapp123
WARNER v. HILLCREST MEDICAL CENTER
No. 83555.
914 P.2d 1060
1995 OK CIV APP 123
Decided: September 26, 1995.
Rehearings Denied November 20, 1995.
Certiorari Denied April 1, 1996.
Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division 4.
Posted by Youngone76  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  06:25 AM
I did read the links to do some research, due to my daughter needing some science experiments to toy around with...while I haven't formed an opinion on microwaves, and we still have AND USE one, I thought it might be helpful to have validated research to demonstrate WHY this experiment.
Presuming the legal link IS true, 1)I did not see any claim to the jury stating it was a blood clot simply the ruling of or against 2)the findings of fact state that microwaving BLOOD does alter the blood making it potentially fatal 3)there was nothing specific to state why IV solution should not be warmed other than manufacturing companies suggest against it
Folks, there's controversy all around us! We are a race of peope able to think for ourselves...try some research and experimentation, and do it three times over before you finalize your conclusion.

LIFE IS GOOD SO LIVE IT smile
Posted by justamom  in  WA  on  Fri Mar 09, 2007  at  12:03 PM
You guys don't know how to do research.
Microwaving damages blood, see:
http://www.clinchem.org/cgi/reprint/49/5/792.pdf

Microwaving should NEVER be used to heat blood, see:
http://www.rch.org.au/rchcpg/index.cfm?doc_id=9905
These guidelines are unclear as to whether they are referring to only pediatric patients, but the word "Never" is indisputable.

The issue might be of warming versus cooking. Though there is plenty of evidence that the way microwave warms things causes unusual effects which are often deleterious to health. I'll let you guys do that research though. It's there...just look for it.

Have fun...
Posted by Hugo  in  Toronto  on  Thu Apr 26, 2007  at  05:54 PM
Thanks! This is helpful! I have an older daughter in chemistry class, and this is bound to become a topic. We are far from owning the genius or the lab equipment to speak the same language on the sites, but it was understandable. Just goes to show the importance of not taking everything we see and hear for gospel truth, so Thanks again.
Posted by justamom  in  WA  on  Fri Apr 27, 2007  at  02:05 AM
Who are you thanking, justamom?
Posted by Hugo  in  Toronto  on  Fri Apr 27, 2007  at  04:10 PM
it would be quick and easy to decide if microwave-warmed blood is toxic or lethal:

using lab. mice or similar, say 6 of each 2 batch: split the blood volume in half, warm the blood in the microwave and infuse it into the experimental animals.

Warm the other half the way the protocol dictate and also infuse it into the control animals.

The difference will be INTERESTING. One thing I can guarantee now: this issue will not remain academic!

uj.
Posted by uj  in  Melbourne Australia.  on  Sat Jul 07, 2007  at  12:55 AM
yeah, but did the clot occur because the blood was microwaved? i definitely wouldn't want microwaved blood for a transfusion. that's absurd. food gets all rubbery and gross from the microwave, i can't imagine what it does to human blood. i'm sure they didn't do any further studies to see if poor norma got the short end of the stick on that one. the hospital would have a major lawsuit on their hands and the microwave industry could be sued by multiple consumers for all kinds of things. most studies on microwaves and their ill affects are done outside of the US with little US attention to how they conclude that microwaves do as little as destroying the nutritional content of your food to as much as altering the make up of the food so that the body is unable to metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food. it's absorption could lead to cancer. cancer is such a prominent problem with little evidence as to what it's specific cause is. but it's never just one thing. throwing out your microwave would be a good start to a healthier lifestyle for numerous reasons. and, if nothing else, your food will taste better (although it's kind of hard to make a frozen burrito taste very good in the first place).
Posted by c-pup  in  san francisco  on  Wed Jul 11, 2007  at  06:37 PM
I educated myself in a hurry and came to understand that it was not blood clot that killed the patient. She was not even able to form blood cloths before died.

The blood was hemolysed and the potassium the red cells contained leaked out and the ammount was not only toxic but lethal.
Posted by uj  in  Melbourne Australia.  on  Thu Jul 12, 2007  at  04:31 AM
Microwaves are zapping the nutrients out of your food by over cooking them. That is what is killing you. When you dont get live enzymes from raw foods you have a harder time digesting the food and there is less nutrients for your body to stay healthy with. Good rule of thumb: The closer to the way God made it, the better it is for you.
Posted by RT  in  LA  on  Wed Nov 28, 2007  at  03:36 PM
Bringing a virtual reality figure, a mythical figure GOD into the discussion is unnecessary at least. Microwaves are bad news we know that now. Why bad news and how bad news are well canvassed. Lets not hide behind this deity. Lets grow up! This God apparently created lots of poisonous plants and animals take mosquitoes, pathogenes, cosmic dangers, geological risks to name a few. This piece of creation escaped quality control. We 'creatures' invented microwave at our peril but what about the 'intelligent designer' making us so imperfect? Spare me please!
Posted by uj  in  Melbourne Australia.  on  Wed Nov 28, 2007  at  05:50 PM
Whoa...chill.
Posted by RT  in  LA  on  Wed Nov 28, 2007  at  06:00 PM
Micro-oven is for cooking!! not warming a live cell. of course it will pop ...
Posted by aig  in  michigan  on  Fri Jan 04, 2008  at  10:04 AM
To Alex, who posted this "hoax", I ask where in the appeal did you find that Levitt died from a blood clot. This was the defense but they lost the original case and the appeal essentially. The Levitt family won.

I agree this case does not prove microwave ovens make killer food but your post does not prove a hoax.
Posted by Stardust  on  Tue Jan 05, 2010  at  09:38 PM
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