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Italian Supreme Court Accepts Mobile Phone-Tumor Link 190

Posted by timothy
from the things-to-worry-about dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to this Reuters story, from which he excerpts: "Italy's supreme court has upheld a ruling that said there was a link between a business executive's brain tumor and his heavy mobile phone usage, potentially opening the door to further legal claims. The court's decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject. 'Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors,' said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain's Royal Berkshire Hospital. The Italian case concerned company director Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumor in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for 5-6 hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand. Marcolini developed a so-called neurinoma affecting a cranial nerve, which was apparently not cancerous but nevertheless required surgery that badly affected his quality of life."
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Italian Supreme Court Accepts Mobile Phone-Tumor Link

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  • Repost, really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mha (1305) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @03:08AM (#41720177) Homepage

    I've been reading slashdot at least once a day for the last few days, and I see this story for the first time.

    But regardless - I would like to amend your "Can ppl stop..." to also stop claiming the story is a repost but NOT GIVE A LINK to the story of which this is supposed to be a repost? It's the equivalent of footnotes to back up claims, and it's what the Web (HTML) was actually MADE FOR.

    Thank you.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @03:30AM (#41720233)

    That is the country of Italy [wikipedia.org] (southern Europe, part of the EU), not Italy, Texas [wikipedia.org]. We return you now to the regularly scheduled posts.

  • Re:Scientific proof (Score:5, Informative)

    by cynop (2023642) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @04:19AM (#41720393)

    The frequencies involved are too low to be ionizing. Dielectric heating could be a problem, but not at the power levels involved. That leaves what? The tumor gremlins who live in every Samsung handset?

    You are correct about ionizing, but since cancer mechanism are not only based on molecular bonds breaking down, this is not definitive. That's one of the reasons the WHO has classified cell phone radiation as "possibly carcinogenic" http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf [www.iarc.fr]

  • Physicist here. (Score:5, Informative)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @06:03AM (#41720711) Journal

    There are essentially 2 main groups of effects related to electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range in questions:

    a) direct: Influencing cell chemistry, ion channels, reactions, and disturbing neuronal functions by electromagnetic fields/absorbiont of energy quanta. They are unproven at best, and some of them are unklikely since the quanta are too low energy for most transitions of molecules in the body, yet the fluctuation is to fast to influence the pseudo-static potentials in the cells. This needs to be checked very carefully, since complex systems may have rectifying effects on fast timescales, but the last time i looked for studies there was no indication of a problematic effect.

    b) indirect: the energy is absorbed by and translated to vibrational excitations (heat), heating the tissue like a chicken in the microwave oven. This effect is well known, and, even if seemingly weak, problematic on a long timescale. Studies have shown that a non-negligible temperatue increase may/will occur, which in turn may have all kinds of bad effects. The order of magnitude for this is easy to caclulate on a paper napkin. And since it is well known it was already mentioned *in the manual of my mobile phone 7 years ago* that one should not use it contineously without a headset and keep a minumum distance (i am unsure about the manual from my phone in 2003, but i believe in may have been included). It was well known to anybody paying attention to what he uses that such an extreme use will cause harm.

    So yes, all this boils down to: ignore well known facts (or even the manual) about the things you use, and get medical problems. Yes, for sure you can wait until warnings have to be placed on coke bottles that drinking 3 liters per day, every day are bad. But its no excuse to not listening the 6 years befor to a proven fact with the excuse that the manufacturer does not state that using it far outside the normal use may affect you negatively - maybe he even did so on the bottom of page one of the quickstart, but you found reading unnecessary. Every thing manufactured has a an avergage use. Is you are so far outside of this that you are in a small percentile of users only, you are somewhat on your on own.

  • Re:Scientific proof (Score:5, Informative)

    by delt0r (999393) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @06:06AM (#41720733)
    More towers means each run at much lower powers. This is to avoid interference. I was working for a Teleco back before the femto/micro cell sites where around. Back then a cell site was a full room full of equipment. Already the density of sites was high enough to set power levels at below 8watts which the hardware could not directly do. We have to add attenuators on the TX side. Consider also the area this is transmitted over.

    Because of the 1/r^2 power scaling with distance, its easy to show all the RF power you are exposed to is from your own phone by a massive margin.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Sunday October 21, 2012 @09:09AM (#41721397) Homepage

    The decision was made on the balance of probabilities. The claimant was able to show that there was at least a 50.00000001% chance that using a mobile phone for 6-7 hours a day for 12 years could damage human tissue.

    The court is not saying that mobile phones cause cancer. Studies have shown that while the various types of radiated energy from a phone are not zero (obviously, how else would it communicate) they are not high enough to harm a human being under normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances and the evidence needed to be re-evaluated to reach a decision. Even that decision is not absolute, merely a judgement that given the evidence (including the fact that the damage was right next to where he held the phone) it is more likely than not that there is a causal link.

    For fucks sake Slashdot, stop modding up these retards who don't RTFA and jump on the anti-luddite bandwagon.

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @09:26AM (#41721465) Journal

    Considering it wasn't too long ago that Italy put geologists on trial for failing to predict an earthquake, [scientificamerican.com] it's a bit difficult to give this latest development anything more than "there they go again...."

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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