A court in Italy ruled that excessive use of a mobile phone caused an executive to develop a brain tumor. Following the court ruling, the Brain Tumor Charity said there is insufficient scientific evidence to link brain tumors with mobile phone use.
The ruling, which may be a landmark for cases of this kind, was issued in the northern town of Ivrea.
The verdict was reached on April 11, but it was made public on Thursday and is subject to a possible appeal. The court awarded a state-funded pension to the plaintiff as a result of the case.
Extended mobile phone use may have caused development of benign brain tumor
Roberto Romeo, a 57-year-old man from Ivrea, testified that his work duties obliged him to use his mobile phone for three to four hours of each working day for about 15 years, which allegedly had worsened a benign brain tumor he had and caused it to grow.
In result, the court ruled that he was to receive 500 euros a month in compensation. The money will be paid monthly by an organism established to compensate people for work-related injuries. However, the ruling could still be appealed, and the judge has yet to explain the legal reasoning behind his decision. The explanation for the judge’s decision will be submitted in a few days.
“For the first time in the world, a court has recognized a causal link between inappropriate use of a mobile phone and a brain tumor,” said Romeo’s attorneys, Stefano Bertone and Renato Ambrosio, according to The Guardian.
Romeo said that it is not his intention to demonize mobile phones, but he believes that people need to be more aware of how to use them. He explained that he had no choice but to use his phone to talk to colleagues and organize his work every day for over 15 years and that he was always calling people, even at home and in the car.
According to Romeo, he started feeling his right ear blocked all the time, and doctors diagnosed him with a brain tumor in 2010. Fortunately, the tumor was benign, but Romeo says that he can no longer hear anything because doctors had to remove his acoustic nerve.
A medical expert stated that Romeo had been damaged at 23 percent of his bodily function as a result from the brain tumor, which caused the judge to give the 500 euros monthly compensation, paid by a workplace-related injuries establishment called INAIL.
There’s not enough evidence to determine a link between brain tumors and mobile phone use
Scientific studies have not come to an agreement on whether mobile phone use poses health risks to humans. Some studies have said that they pose no serious threats, and others have found that heavier use of mobile phones may cause adverse health effects. However, most experts believe that it is too early to determine whether there’s a link between mobile use and adverse health effects, as it is a relatively new technology.
Dr. David Jenkinson, chief scientific officer for the Brain Tumor Charity, believes that further investigation is still needed to determine a link between brain tumors and extended mobile phone use.
“We know that many people are concerned about a possible connection between mobile phone use and the development of brain tumors,” told Jenkinson to the BBC.
However, he says that the global research projects that have been conducted so far, which have involved hundreds of thousands of people with brain tumors, have not found enough evidence that using a mobile phone increases the risk of brain tumors. Jenkinson says that the court ruling does not provide more evidence. He added that some researchers continue to explore whether the link exists.
Romeo, who allegedly worked for Telecom Italia, will be receiving 6000 euros a year. Bertone, from the law firm Ambrosio and Commodo, told the BBC that Romeo currently has no plans to sue any of the manufacturers or the mobile phone company itself.
Bertone added that they have been approached by an interesting number of people since the ruling became public, saying that they had experienced the same kind of problems. And, he added, these people had proof of accumulative use of mobile phone exceeding 1,000 hours.
“No one can pretend with definitive certainty to assess a legal case. Most opponents say there is no scientific certainty so therefore it is not true. That is not the case,” said Bertone, according to the BBC.
Bertone and Ambrosio cited a study by the National Toxicology Program in the U.S. Such study, which preliminary findings were released in 2016, suggested a low incidence of brain and heart tumors in male rats that were exposed to doses of radiofrequency radiation for nine hours a day over a two-year period. However, the study is not yet finished, and still needs to be analyzed by other scientists.