Induction Cooking & Pacemakers?
Induction cook tops work by generating a high frequency electromagnetic field between the magnetic coils within the cook top and the cookware itself, explains TheInductionSite.com. Induction
cooking differs from other cooking methods because the cookware itself becomes the heat source. This is possible because the magnetic current causes the molecules of the metal cookware to vibrate at high frequencies, creating friction that heats the pot or pan.
Werner Irnich and Alan D. Bernstein's study "Do induction cook tops interfere with cardiac pacemakers?" was published in 2006. This study measured the effect of electromagnetic radiation on 244 left-sided unipolar pacemakers, with volunteers standing and touching a metal pot on an induction cook top. Results of this study suggest that patients with this particular type and placement of pacemakers may experience electromagnetic interference (EMI), though none exceeded the critical value of 100 mV. The conclusions also point to standing close to the induction cook top, touching the pot for a long period of time, and asymmetrical positioning of the pot as factors that increase risk.
The 2003 study "Induction Ovens and Electromagnetic Interference: What is the risk for patients with implanted pacemakers?" by Ricki et al. found that there was no risk of EMI for individuals with bipolar or right-sided unipolar pacemakers. This study involved 40 patients who were positioned 20 cm from two pots on an induction cook top. The energy levels of the induction burners were increased incrementally and one pot was removed then replaced. The researchers found "no incidence of pacemaker malfunction" and observed that pacemaker settings remained the same after the experiment.
Clearly, these studies point to somewhat different conclusions concerning the safety of induction cooking for individuals with pacemakers. Though there is not evidence that induction cooking seriously jeopardizes the functionality of pacemakers, factors such as the type and position of the pacemaker in the body, distance from the cook top, and the position of the cookware may impact EMI. TheInductionSite.com refers to these and several other studies about induction cook tops, and concludes that the best action to take is to consult your physician.
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health has several tips for safe induction cooking. Cookware should cover the entire induction surface to minimize electromagnetic leakage, and people should keep a distance of 5 to 10 cm between their bodies and the cook tops. Use cookware intended for induction cooking, and avoid using metal utensils as these can carry the electromagnetic current to your body. Again, individuals with pacemakers or defibrillators should consult with their doctors.