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October 19, 2012

Victory for Lawyers: Italian Court Links Cell Phone Use and Brain Tumors

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

A new Italian court ruling linking mobile phone use and brain tumors has led to a lot of happy attorneys.

That’s because the ruling is likely to lead to many lawsuits (most likely in Italy) – given the widespread global use of mobile phones and the number of patients who have been diagnosed with brain tumors.

Image via Shutterstock

The court in Italy heard a case about Innocente Marcolini, 60, an Italian businessman, who got sick after using a cell phone at work for up to six hours every day for 12 years, according to The Telegraph (UK) newspaper.

Italy's Supreme Court concluded there is a "causal link" between his illness and his use of cell phones, the Sun newspaper reported.

"This is significant for very many people,” Marcolini said in media statements. “I wanted this problem to become public because many people still do not know the risks.”

Marcolini's tumor is non-cancerous, but he is partially paralyzed and suffers pain, news reports said.

"I was on the phone, usually the mobile, for at least five or six hours every day at work,” he added. "I wanted it recognized that there was a link between my illness and the use of mobile and cordless phones.”

An oncologist, Angelo Gino Levis, and a neurosurgeon, Giuseppe Grasso, both testified for the plaintiff in the case about the risk of electromagnetic radiation from mobile and cordless phones.

"The court decision is extremely important,” Levis told The Sun newspaper. “It finally officially recognizes the link. It'll open not a road but a motorway to legal actions by victims. We're considering a class action."

However, Britain's Health Protection Agency was quoted this week that, "The scientific consensus is that mobile phones do not cause cancer."

A study published in 2011 in the British Medical Journal, claims “to show no link between mobile phone use and tumours,” TechZone360 reported.

On the other hand, The World Health Organization has urged people to limit mobile phone use, calling it a “Class B carcinogen.”

"The working group classifies the radio and electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans; that is within the classification used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer," Dr. Jonathan Samet, who heads the International Agency for Research on Cancer,  Working Group, said in a statement. The group is affiliated with the WHO.

Most at risk are those with the highest use of cell phones and exposure to other sources of radiation, the working group said.

Last month, it was reported in the United States that singer Sheryl Crow recently was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Crow suspected cell phone use led to the illness.

On the other hand, TMC CTO Tom Keating reported in 2010 how electromagnetic radiation exposed to mice actually reversed Alzheimer's disease and improved cognitive capabilities, citing a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

It remains to be seen if the likely lawsuits in Italy will lead to lawsuits in other regions. The courts in the European Union nations may be more likely than those in other regions to be moved by the Italian decision.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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