The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that cell phone use can be linked to cancer, a decision that has opened a door for future litigation, even as medical experts disputed the verdict.
According to Russia Today, the high court ruled that Innocente Marcolini was correct in blaming his heavy cell phone use — six hours every day for 12 years, Marcolini said — for him developing a brain tumor that, though benign, left the left side of his face paralyzed.
The tumor formed on the trigeminal nerve, near where he would hold his mobile phone. Marcolini’s argument said that the phone’s electromagnetic radiation caused cell damage, increasing the likelihood of tumors. In this particular case, he said, the growth could have spread to his carotid artery and blocked one of the primary blood vessels to his brain.
“This is significant for very many people,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “I wanted this problem to become public because many people still do not know the risks.”
Oncologist Angelo Gino Levis, who testified for the prosecution during the case after conducting several case studies he said bore out to the link between mobile phones and brain tumors, suggested this case could be just the beginning.
“It’ll open, not a road, but a motorway to legal actions by victims,” Levis said. “We’re considering a class action.”
However, according to Reuters, the medical jury is still out on cases like Marcolini’s.
“Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors,” said Malcolm Sperrin, who heads the medical physics and clinical engineering at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Britain.
Meanwhile, Tech Hive.com reported that the high court ignored a number of studies done by Swedish researchers between 2005 and 2009 that found no link between cell phone use and the disease.
Last year, however, the World Health Organization added cell phones’ electromagnetic fields to a list of “possibly carcinogenic” agents that includes coconut oil, DDT, gasoline exhaust, lead and talcum powder.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]