Paul Brodeur: I Never Said That Microwaves Take Nutrients Out Of Food, Despite 'American Hustle'

Jennifer Lawrence's "American Hustle" character, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, says and does a lot of outlandish things during the course of David O. Russell's new film, including but not limited to starting a fire with her tanning lamp, nearly getting her husband killed by mobsters, and putting metal in the family's new microwave oven (or "science oven," per the parlance of the film).

After that careless act, which results in another fire, Rosalyn cites an article written by journalist Paul Brodeur as reason for her destructive actions.

"I read that it takes all of the nutrition out of our food," Rosalyn says about the microwave during an argument with her husband (played by Christian Bale), who doesn't believe her claims. "I read it in an article," Rosalyn notes, "by Paul Brodeur."

Except Brodeur is saying he never wrote an article that made any such declaration. After video of that "American Hustle" scene appeared on The Huffington Post's list of 17 Best Movie Moments of 2013, the 82-year-old Brodeur contacted HuffPost to dispute the assertion made by the Lawrence character. (Brodeur also noted that he sent "American Hustle" producers a "strongly worded letter" through his lawyer, "pointing out that by attributing a scientifically unsupportable statement to me they have defamed me and damaged my reputation.") As part of his note, Brodeur also expounded at length on what he views at the "microwave radiation hazard" of cell phones.

Requests for comment to representatives for Sony Pictures, the studio behind "American Hustle," and David O. Russell, who also co-wrote the film in addition to directing, were not immediately returned. This post will be updated if they respond.

Brodeur's full statement to HuffPost on the matter is below:

In a piece entitled "17 Best Movie Moments of 2013" that appeared in the Huffington Post on January 6, 2014, Christopher Rosen, a senior entertainment editor, includes a trailer from the film "American Hustle,” which states that Paul Brodeur has written in a magazine that a microwave oven "takes all of the nutrition out of food." This is a serious error. I have never written in The New Yorker, where I was a staff writer for nearly forty years, or in any other magazine, or declared in any way that a microwave oven does any such thing. Indeed, I have publicly stated the opposite. (See People magazine, Vol. 9, No. 4, January 30, 1978.) However, I was the first journalist to write at length about the adverse health effects of microwave radiation (see The New Yorker, December 13 and 20, 1976, and books entitled The Zapping of America, W.W. Norton, 1977; Currents of Death, Simon and Schuster, 1989; and Secrets, A Writer in the Cold War, Faber and Faber, 1997.) I have also spoken publicly about the microwave radiation hazard.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of discussion of and study about the microwave radiation emitted by cell phones. It is an established fact that when one is transmitting from a cell phone held to the ear, microwave radiation can penetrate deeply into the brain. Much controversy surrounds the biological effects of such penetration.

In 2011, a committee of scientists and medical doctors from 14 nations, which was established by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in Lyons, issued a joint statement that long-term use of cell phones may lead to two different types of tumors--glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, and tumors of the inner ear. Their decision was based upon an evaluation of six major studies showing a possible association between wireless phone use and brain tumors. The chairman of the committee was Jonathan Samet, a professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who has been appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board by President Obama.

A neurosurgeon who was a member of the committee said, "What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain."

In France, the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety has recommended limiting exposure to radiation from mobile phones, particularly for children and intensive users.

Swedish scientists have determined that people who started using mobile phones before the age of 20 are experiencing more than a five-fold risk of developing malignant tumors of the brain, and a similar risk of developing tumors of the inner ear.

It has been estimated that nine out of ten 16-year-olds in developed nations either use or own a mobile phone. Much more evidence exists to demonstrate the health hazards of microwave radiation, but the above should encourage people to take precautions -- either by texting or by using ear phones or by sharply limiting their use of cell phones—and to mistrust the cell telephone industry’s spurious claims that microwave radiation emitted by the devices cannot cause harm.

The most authoritative source of information about the microwave radiation hazard in recent years has been Louis Slesin, founder, editor, and publisher of Microwave News. He can be reached at

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