There is an email being circulated that warns people on the dangers of plastic containers. It provides a pseudo-scientific explanation on how plastic containers can cause cancer, and references some medical sources.
It’s a hoax. People start these emails for fun just to see it forwarded to millions of people. There’s no financial gain to be made from these hoaxes, no harm done either. And to you this should be an important reminder not to believe everything you read on the internet.
Here is some of the text from the email (to help Google index this page and to help more people find this article):
Dear Friends, Gentle reminder, is never to late to change our bad habits of having everything fast. Avoid warming food in microwave using plastic containers. This may endangers your lives.
Cancer Update please see below ! Hopkins
This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well.
Please circulate to all you know; Cancer update
Johns Hopkins – Cancer News from Johns Hopkins
No plastic containers in micro
No water bottles in freezer
No plastic wrap in microwave…
A dioxin chemical causes cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don’t freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.
Recently, Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.
He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers..
This especially applies to foods that contain fat.
He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body…
Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food… You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else
Paper isn’t bad but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc.
He reminded us that a while ago, some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons
Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food.
Cover food with a paper towel instead.
Now onto the explanation about this hoax:
At the beginning of the hoax email it states that this research comes from John Hopkins. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is a medical school in USA. They have nothing to do with this email or the information contained within it. In fact they’ve published a statement that says,
These messages, frequently titled “Johns Hopkins Cancer News” or “Johns Hopkins Cancer Update,” are falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins and we do not endorse their content.
Freezing water does not cause the release of chemicals from plastic bottles.
Read the full notice here. And in case you’re still thinking “what if the email is right, what if…”, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Publish Health also adds:
This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don’t think there are.
Read the rest of this quote, and much more scientific information about why this is a hoax, here. Note that microwaving some types of plastics can be hazardous, read the medical article for accurate information. The above Q&A was published in 2004. This hoax email has been going since 2002.
So the next time you receive one of these emails, instead of forwarding it to 10 people thinking you’re doing them and yourself a favour, let the sender know it’s a hoax and refer them to this article for reference.