The U.S. has a serious diabetes problem. Every 17 seconds, someone new is diagnosed with the disease, which remains the seventh leading cause of death. And according to a new study, microwaves are making things worse.
Nuking food in plastic containers apparently allows toxic chemicals to leach into the food, some of which cause high blood pressure and insulin resistance, two of the factors in diabetes.
Storage containers are so bad, apparently, that even eating unheated food out of them allows the chemicals to enter the body, albeit in smaller doses.
“Heating enhances contamination,” said researcher Dr. Leonardo Transande.
Transande and his team studied two phtalates — compounds found in plastic — that manufacturers have used for the past 10 years, and found a “significant association” between high blood pressure and the chemicals.
“We examined DINP and DIDP levels in urine samples from children and adolescents (6 to 19 years old), who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2009 and 2012, to assess if these levels were associated with blood pressure measurements,” said Transande.
According to Transande, even just minor exposure to phthalates was worrisome, because it can have “lifelong effects.”
If that’s enough to scare you into throwing away all of your leftovers, don’t worry. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of exposure to the two compounds.
First, don’t heat up plastic containers, or anything that has plastic wrap, in the microwave. You’re also going to want to avoid washing your plastic containers in the dishwasher, too.
Second, don’t drink from plastic bottles that have the number three, six, or seven stamped on the bottom, as each indicates that the bottles have questionable chemicals in them.
Third, get rid of any well-worn storage containers. If the containers are edged or scarred from overuse, the protective layers have worn out, allowing the compounds to leach in at higher rates.