Italy court ruling links mobile phone use to tumor

ROME Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:29pm EDT

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's supreme court has upheld a ruling that said there was a link between a business executive's brain tumor and his heavy mobile phone usage, potentially opening the door to further legal claims.

The court's decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject.

"Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors," said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain's Royal Berkshire Hospital.

The Italian case concerned company director Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumor in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for 5-6 hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand.

Marcolini developed a so-called neurinoma affecting a cranial nerve, which was apparently not cancerous but nevertheless required surgery that badly affected his quality of life.

He initially sought financial compensation from the Italian Workers' Compensation Authority INAIL which rejected his application, saying there was no proof his illness had been caused by his work.

But a court in Brescia later ruled there was a causal link between the use of mobile and cordless telephones and tumors.

Italy's supreme court rejected an INAIL appeal against that ruling on October 12 though its decision was only reported on Friday.

It said the lower court's decision was justified and that scientific evidence advanced in support of the claim was reliable. Marcolini's situation had been "different from normal, non-professional use of a mobile telephone", it said.

The evidence was based on studies conducted between 2005-2009 by a group led by Lennart Hardell, a cancer specialist at the University Hospital in Orebro in Sweden. The court said the research was independent and "unlike some others, was not co-financed by the same companies that produce mobile telephones".

(Reporting By Virginia Alimenti; Additional reporting by Naomi O'Leary and Kate Kelland in London; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Comments (2)
ucbcfch wrote:
Italian Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can Cause Cancer

What are the implications of this ruling for the United States?

Contrary to the denials of many heath agencies in the U.S. and in some other countries, the Italian Supreme Court has recognized a “causal” link between heavy mobile phone use and brain tumor risk in a worker’s compensation case.

The Italian courts dismissed research co-financed by the mobile phone industry including the WHO Interphone study due to concerns about conflict of interest.

Instead, the courts relied on independent research conducted by Lennart Hardell and his colleagues in Sweden which showed consistent evidence of increased brain tumor risk associated with long term mobile phone use. Last year, the Hardell research was heavily relied upon by 31 experts convened by the WHO who classified radiofrequency energy, including cell phone radiation, as “possibly carcinogenic” in humans.

In our review of the cell phone use – tumor risk research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2009, we found that research co-financed by the Telecom industry was unlikely to report evidence of tumor risk and employed poorer quality research methods than independently-funded research. Moreover, in more recently published research, authors of studies co-financed by the industry dismissed as artifactual the evidence of increased brain tumor risk they found in children as well as adults.

In our paper, we raised concerns that conflicts of interest may have affected the conduct of the research and biased the reporting of it. In our rebuttal to three letters to the editor submitted by individuals with industry affiliations or funding, we called on governments to fund cell phone radiation research that is independent of industry in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Since there are now more than 330 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S., an annual fee of 50 cents on each cell phone would generate sufficient resources to fund high quality, independent research that could promote safer technology development and fund a community education program about safer cell phone use.

Although 12 nations and the European Union have issued precautionary health warnings regarding mobile phone use, the U.S. has been in denial. The Telecom industry has blocked numerous attempts to pass cell phone warning legislation at the Federal, state, and city level. The industry even refused to support a bill in the California legislature by Senator Mark Leno that would simply remind consumers to read the safety information that is currently printed in their cell phone user manuals.

Only one city has been able to overcome intense lobbying by the Telecom industry. San Francisco adopted cell phone “right to know” legislation two years ago, but the Telecom industry (i.e., CTIA-The Wireless Association) blocked implementation of this law by filing a lawsuit claiming that the court-approved fact sheet violates the industry’s First Amendment rights. The CTIA also moved its annual conference from San Francisco to punish the city.

The evidence of harm from cell phone radiation has been increasing so it is only a matter of time before lawsuits filed in U.S. courts by cell phone radiation victims will be successful. The Insurance industry will not provide product liability insurance due to concerns that juries will find that the Telecom industry has behaved much like the Tobacco and Asbestos industries. So the Telecom industry could be faced with paying huge damages to individuals and governments.

The Telecom industry could become good corporate citizens, reduce potential product liability and protect consumers’ health by allowing the FCC to adopt stronger regulations, by promoting precautionary safety warnings and by encouraging government to support independent research to promote safer wireless technologies.

Otherwise taxpayers may be forced to bail out yet another industry too big to fail.

Oct 19, 2012 11:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
umojaresearch wrote:
The dangers of microwave towers and cell phones have been known for years, but suggesting no studies have proven these dangers to exist protects the industry. They also do not mention communications technicians are clearly warned of the dangers to radio waves from cell phones, cell phone towers and microwave towers as standard maintenance instructions. It has also been proven that people who live near High Tension Power Lines suffer from higher rates of Cancer, due to the exposure of these high-tension power lines.

1. WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk, By Danielle Dellorto, CNN, May 31, 2011
2. Search Internet for; Cell Phone Radiation Facts & the Dangers of Corporate Censorship
3. Beyond Brain Cancer: Other Possible Dangers Of Cell Phones, Posted: 06/15/11 05:04 PM ET, Huffpost Healthy Living, Oct 20, 2011
4. Cell Phone Dangers for Children, Lonnette Harrell, Yahoo! Contributor Network, Oct 16, 2007 Yahoo
5. Cell Phones, Cancer and the Dangers of Risk Perception, By David Ropeik | June 1, 2011, Scientific American
6. The Cell Phone – Cancer connection, Posted by Brad Weeks, MD on June 14, 2008
7. Cancer Institute Warns of Cell Phone Risks, August 12 2008,

Oct 19, 2012 12:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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