The belief that using cellular phones causes brain tumors is almost as old as mobile phones themselves. Studies on the matter tend to vary, with some claiming that excessive cell phone use may be linked to brain tumors, and others claiming the opposite. But an Italian court may have again claimed that there is a link between these two, having ruled in favor of an employee who developed a brain tumor, supposedly after more than a decade of excessive and improper cell phone use.
A report from ABC News (via the Associated Press) from earlier this week told the story of a longtime employee of Telecom Italia who had won a court case, getting monthly social security payments after a court found his non-cancerous brain tumor resulted from “improper” use of his company cell phone. While the ruling was issued back in March, it was only on Thursday when it was made public.
While plaintiff Roberto Romeo’s lawyer, Stefano Bertone, claimed that this was the first legal case he knows of where cell phone use was linked to brain tumors, the case actually isn’t a completely unique one in Italy. In 2012, the Inquisitr wrote about a similar case, where Italy’s supreme court upheld a ruling that a man’s benign brain tumor was associated with intensive cell phone use. In that case, the man had reportedly developed a tumor on the left side of his head after regularly making calls on his cell phone for about five to six hours a day over 12 years.
According to ABC News, Telecom Italia employee Romeo had been using his company cell phone three hours a day over a 15-year period, supposedly not taking any safety precautions. This reportedly caused him to develop a tumor that, while non-cancerous, had caused him to lose hearing in one ear. Romeo was quoted as saying that he “went well beyond the limits” of a suggested one hour of cell phone calls per day.
ABC News noted that Romeo will receive about 6,000 to 7,000 euros ($6,000 to $7,500) a year in compensation, per the terms of the court ruling.
Is it really possible for excessive cell phone use to lead to brain tumors or even cancer? According to Cancer.org, the fact that mobile phones emit RF waves has led to some safety concerns regarding their use. While the levels of RF waves emitted by cell phones are comparatively low, there are certain variables, such as time spent on the phone, distance to the nearest cell phone tower, amount of cellular traffic, and phone model, that could affect the specific absorption rate (SAR), or the amount of RF energy a person’s body could absorb from their phone.
Cancer.org also wrote that studies on cell phone use and brain tumors have yielded mixed results. Most suggest that brain tumor patients don’t report substantially higher levels of cell phone use than control group members without tumors. But there are some studies that may illustrate a link, including a group of studies from Sweden where patients have a higher risk of brain tumors on the side of the head where they hold their cell phone against, especially if they’ve been using such phones for at least a decade.
Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not found any link between cell phones and brain tumors, as confirmed in a statement quoted by Cancer.org.
“The majority of studies published have failed to show an association between exposure to radiofrequency from a cell phone and health problems.”
While medical literature has not shown enough evidence to confirm that the waves emitted by cell phones could cause people to develop brain tumors, the aforementioned plaintiff in the Italian case and his lawyer believe that consumers deserve to be educated on proper cell phone use and given the proper tools to avoid ending up in a similar situation. For example, people can be advised to reduce their mobile phone usage, or given “specialized anti-radiation ear buds” which they can use when making calls.
Italy’s consumer protection agency Codacons, on the other hand, is planning to file a class-action suit based on the Roberto Romeo ruling, with the hope that cell phones in Italy come with health warnings when sold to consumers.
[Featured Image by Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock]