Lawyers, get your briefcases ready: Italy's Supreme Court just ruled that a businessman's brain tumor was caused by frequent, long-term use of a cellular phone.
Innocente Marcolini developed the tumor in a region near the phone's contact point. Neurosurgeon Giuseppe Grasso and oncologist/environmental mutagenesis professor Angelo Gino Levis managed to convince the court that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by his phones damaged his cells, increasing the risk of tumor.
Before you rush out to build a tinfoil hat, note that virtually all other scientists and medical institutes say there isn't enough evidence to officially say yay or nay to a link between cell phones and cancer or tumors. Also note that Professor Levis issued a statement to The Sun that calls his status as an objective witness into question: "The court decision is extremely important. It finally officially recognizes the link," he said. "It'll open not a road but a motorway to legal actions by victims. We're considering a class action."
The World Health Organization classified cell phones as "a possible carcinogenic risk" last year after long-term studies showed that extensive, long-term cell phone use could be associated with a slightly increased risk of glioma, a form of brain cancer. That small link is possible, not anywhere near proven, and the WHO called for additional testing; the classification was a form of playing things safe in an unproven field, nothing more.
American health authorities say there's no cause for immediate alarm, though they too call for further studies. "Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck," the National Cancer Institute's website says in the "Key Points" section of its Cell Phones and Cancer Risk page. That mirrors reports from the CDC, FDA, FCC, NIEHS, the Mayo Clinic and more.
Even the American Cancer Society agrees. "The RF waves given off by cell phones don't have enough energy to damage DNA directly or to heat body tissues," the organization explains on its own cellular phones and cancer FAQ. "Because of this, many scientists believe that cell phones aren't able to cause cancer. Most studies done in the lab have supported this theory, finding that RF waves do not cause DNA damage."
The Italian Supreme Court's ruling is monumental in that country, but it doesn't apply to other countries -- the United States included -- and it doesn't fall in line with the scientific consensus. Don't rush to toss your iPhone 5 in the trash just yet. If you're worried about a possible connection between cell phones and cancer, the ACS suggests using a corded phone, a corded smartphone earpiece accessory, or flipping your phone on its face and activating speaker mode -- especially if you're a heavy user.
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