Landmark ruling in Italy: Cell phones can lead to tumors


It’s a question that has hovered since people started using mobile phones more than two decades ago: Can your cell phone make you seriously ill? Specifically, can the radiofrequency energy that’s emitted by mobile devices causes cancer, especially brain tumors? There’s been a flood of studies on this subject, many of them reaching contradictory conclusions. That’s led many cell phone customers to assume there’s no danger, but in fact credible scientists are still quite concerned there is a cancer link, especially as mobile use becomes universal.

Now comes a major breakthrough out of Italy, where the courts have determined that mobile phones can cause a tumor:

 Italian businessman Innocente Marcolini, 60, fell ill after using a handset at work for up to six hours every day for 12 years.

Now Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome has blamed his phone. Experts have predicted a flood of legal actions from victims.

Stricken Mr Marcolini last night warned: “People must be told the risks.”

He was diagnosed with a brain tumour after complaining of head and chin pains.

And yesterday his country’s Supreme Court stated there was a “causal link” between his heavy phone use and the growth.

A respected oncologist and professor of environmental mutagenesis as well as a top neurosurgeon testified for Marcolini and presented evidence that electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile and cordless phones can damage cells, making tumours more likely. They also suggested that it make take as long as 15 years for health problems to develop. That means that scientific studies relying on a three-to-five year timeline may fail to detect problems, and it also suggests that we may be seeing more cases in court since the use of mobiles exploded at the start of the millennium.

Over the last two years, major health bodies — mostly notably the World Health Organization, but also a leading investigative arm of the U.S. Congress — have issued new warnings that mobile phones may be hazardous to your health:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Regulators should take a fresh look at 15-year-old standards on radio frequency energy from mobile phones, an investigative arm of the Congress said on Tuesday amid lingering concerns the devices may cause brain tumors.

Before a mobile phone comes on the U.S. market, it is first tested to ensure its emissions are within a limit determined by the Federal Communications Commission to be safe for human exposure.

But that limit may not reflect the latest research, and testing may not reflect the actual conditions under which mobile phones are used, such as when stored directly against the body in a pocket while someone talks through an ear piece, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The World Health Organization lists cell phone radiation as a carcinogen on the same level as lead, chloroform, and car engine exhaust (I also wrote about this last year):

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

What that means is they found some evidence of increase in glioma and acoustic neuroma brain cancer for mobile phone users, but have not been able to draw conclusions for other types of cancers

“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Needless to say, the book is far from closed in this subject, but the evidence is mounting — now that we have a longer history of using mobile phones — that these devices can cause tumors. The court decision in Italy is indeed a landmark ruling. It is a warning that cell phone users to need to be aware of these very real risks.

Read more avout the Italian cell phone court decision at

To find out more about the congressional call for further cell phone regulation, please read:,0,6474262.story

To learn more about the World Health Organization’s warnings on cell phones and cancer, please read:

To read my post from July 2011 on cell phones and cancer, please read:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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