Category Archives: Food and Drink

Do microwaves cause cancer?

image from scientificamerican.com

Microwave ovens are appliances that dominate almost every kitchen in the United States. Since their increasing household use in the 1980s there were rumors of risk from microwaves. The Think Twice Blog exists because the momentum of such “myths” can carry them for decades after they are proved false. To this day, as we reheat our leftovers in a microwave, we may stop to think twice about whether the convenience of a quickly heated meal is worth the potential risk of exposure to microwave radiation. Afterall, the sun can cause cancer due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and we have probably all heard not to stand too close to microwaves at some point in our lives. But do you actually have to worry about developing cancer from microwave radiation? 

Radiation is used to heat up our food. However, the radiation emitted by microwaves is low-energy. On the other hand, UV radiation is high-energy and can damage DNA in our cells. DNA damage can lead to cancer, which is why we protect ourselves using protective sunscreen. In contrast, microwave ovens only have enough energy to vibrate the water molecules in our food. This movement of water molecules creates the water vapor that heats and cooks our food, similar to how we generate heat when our hands rub together. The Minnesota Department of Health states irradiated energy passes through the food like”light through a window” which is also why food heated in a microwave is not radioactive after it is heated.

The potential harms of microwave radiation are minimal. Microwaves are very closely regulated to prevent high levels of radiation leakage through provisions such as safety locks to prevent the oven from operating when the door is open. The FDA allows 5 milliwatts per square centimeter of microwave radiation leakage two inches away from the microwave or farther, which is far below the level known to be harmful to humans. While we can decrease our exposure to microwaves by standing further from the device while it’s on, the waves emitted from this device are not dangerous to humans at any distance. 

Keep in mind that if your microwave is damaged in any way, it is best to not use it. However, in most cases, we can enjoy the convenience of microwaves without fear. No, the convenience of microwaves is not too good to be true. Enjoy those wonderful reheated seconds!

 

https://www.cancer.net/blog/2021-03/can-using-microwave-cause-cancer

https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/resources-you-radiation-emitting-products/microwave-oven-radiation#Tips_on_Safe_Microwave_Oven_Operation

Does sugar make kids hyperactive?

Bowl of American Candy

Image from https://www.2foodtrippers.com/best-american-candy/

Neha Prathivadi

The expression “sugar rush” is one that has been in our vocabularies since our early childhood days. Many parents are concerned about their children’s consumption of candy and other sugary foods, because they fear it will lead to overexcitement and hyperactivity. However, is there actually a link between sugar and hyperactivity in children? Researchers seem to disagree.

The concept of the “sugar rush” originated from the theory that since sugar is a source of energy for our bodies, consuming more sugar should lead to higher energy levels. In reality, our bodies don’t break down all the sugar immediately. Rather, we store it and use small amounts when needed, so we shouldn’t actually show signs of hyperactivity after eating large amounts of sugar. 

An analysis of multiple research studies found that sugar does not impact the behavior or mental performance of children. So, if there is no impact, how do we explain children appearing “hyper” after consuming sugar? The answer may be confirmation bias. Most kids tend to eat sugary foods in fun settings, like birthday parties or family holidays. Our minds may falsely link  the excitement surrounding the event to the sugar. 

Another interesting fact is that sugar blocks the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a component of our brain that is associated with stress. Therefore, sugar might lessen stress levels and could actually calm us.

So far, there is no evidence to show a connection between sugar and hyperactivity in children. Nevertheless, it is still important to be aware of what you are consuming in order to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. So have fun and enjoy your occasional ice cream, cookie, or candy, but make sure to snack in moderation!

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Does drinking eight glasses of water a day have health benefits?

Image from aces.edu

Emily Samson

About 60 to 75% of your body weight is made up of water, and water has an important role in maintaining vital bodily functions. For example, water is essential for digestion, joint lubrication, nutrient absorption, and much more. Since your body loses water through things like breathing, sweating, and urinating, it is important to replenish your water supply to keep your body functioning properly. So, how much water do you need to drink daily to keep your body functioning properly? 

You might have heard of the 8×8 rule, a theory that drinking 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day has health benefits. This equates to drinking a little more than half a gallon daily. However, there is no evidence to support that 8 eight-ounce glasses of water is an ideal amount of water intake, and it is unclear where the rule originated. The amount of water that is healthy for a person to drink daily may vary by body weight, environmental temperature, and physical activity levels.

One proposed benefit of drinking excess water is for appetite suppression. One study found that young men who drank 2 glasses of water before meals ate 22% less than those who did not. However, another study found that drinking water before eating only reduced meal consumption in older adults, not younger adults. It’s not clear that drinking water can play a role in appetite suppression and more experimental evidence is needed. Other proposed benefits of drinking excess water are an improvement in skin complexion or reductions in the intensity of headaches, but these claims are not supported with experimental evidence. 

Our bodies are designed to make sure we have enough water. Most water absorption happens in the kidneys. Within seconds, the kidneys can make molecular adjustments to increase or decrease water absorption. For example, if you drink more water than your body needs, you pee out the excess water. On the other hand, if you drink less water than your body needs, your kidneys conserve water and signal your brain to make you feel thirsty. The kidneys help adjust water levels based on the body’s needs. There is no single answer for how much water is healthy to drink daily. However, your water intake is likely adequate if you rarely feel thirsty and if your urine is colorless or a light yellow. 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20National%20Academies%20of,fluids%20a%20day%20for%20women

https://www.mdlinx.com/article/8-glasses-of-water-a-day-myth-or-medicine/lfc-2814

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/1/70/htm