Green circle with question mark inside Most likely or definitely true

Red circle with X insideFalse/misinformation

Gray circle with question mark insideWe’re not sure yet

Change or refine your search

Standing close to a microwave while it’s in use causes cancer

What you may have heard

Standing too close to the microwave can increase your risk of developing cancer.

What science tells us

Microwaves do not emit enough radiofrequency radiation to be harmful to humans (ACS). Microwave ovens are designed so that the microwave radiation is contained within the oven itself. The oven only creates microwaves when the door is shut, and the oven is turned on.

Epidemiological Evidence

When microwave ovens are in good condition and are used according to instructions, there is no evidence that they pose a health risk to people.

Laboratory Evidence/Supporting Evidence

There are very limited animal or laboratory studies that look into the relationship between microwaves and cancer.

IARC Carcinogen Classification: Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic: if microwave is broken/open)

How to reduce your risk

The best way to reduce your risk is to ensure that your microwave is in good working condition. Replace your microwave whenever it is damaged, as this might allow radiation leakage that could be harmful to humans, if not addressed.

Bottom line

Using a microwave is not risky, as long as the microwave is in good condition.

American Cancer Society (ACS): Radiofrequency (RF) radiation
Scientific American: Do Microwaves Cause Cancer?


Published: June 11, 2021
Verified/updated: August 22, 2022