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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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  • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @04:30AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cynop (2023642)

      How egotistic would USA readers be, for this clarification to be necessary?

    • by NouberNou (1105915) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @05:34AM (#41720435)
      No need to explain, only something this stupid could come from the country of Italy... They even beat Texas on the wacky scale. Watch out cell phone manufacturers, if you travel to Italy they might charge you for manslaughter, just like they charge people for not predicting earthquakes.
      • by paiute (550198)
        Maybe they will arrest the phone and charge it with murder.
        • by snspdaarf (1314399) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @07:31AM (#41720841)
          I knew they were smartphones, but I didn't know they were not Three Laws Safe!
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Sunday October 21, 2012 @10:09AM (#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 rtb61 (674572)

            The ruling basically states that there is a risk and that phones are not totally safe. Use them excessively from a very young age and you are taking a risk. For certain types of cancer at certain locations, it should be a simple an automatic win for the victim and the mobile phone companies need to set up a scheme to pay for those victims. Some people are always more vulnerable to certain affects than other people, more vulnerable to cancer and the range of artificial sources that can cause cancer. Greed j

      • The Real Danger (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sycodon (149926)

        The real danger is that some jackass judge from the northeastern states or more likely in LalaLand California, who believes that it is appropriate and necessary to consider FOREIGN laws and precedence when deliberating American laws and precedence, will open the litigation floodgates here in the U.S.

        • by Maow (620678)

          The real danger is that some jackass judge from the northeastern states or more likely in LalaLand California, who believes that it is appropriate and necessary to consider FOREIGN laws and precedence when deliberating American laws and precedence, will open the litigation floodgates here in the U.S.

          Why not, USA considers American laws valid in FOREIGN lands.

          i.e. McKinnon (UK), Kadr (Canada / Afghanistan), Kim Dotcom (NZ), etc. ad nauseam.

  • Well, Italy hardly stands alone. Here in the United States, idiot judges and legislators have been doing whack-ass stuff like declaring women pregnant two weeks before conception (by law). Other legislators have passed resolutions effectively banning global warming research, or attempting to legislate how said research is conducted so as to prevent certain conclusions from being reached. All around us, worldwide, science is under attack from the idiocracy.

    Science is dangerous because is allows people like

    • Knowledge is power, and science as an institution makes no bones about who gets it. That's why the Dark Ages happened, and why we're just one major disaster or war away from it happening again.

      Sorry, but no. The Dark Ages happened as a result of the fall of Rome and the invasions of barbarians, and the Muslim conquests.

      Mohammed & Charlemagne Revisited: The Epilogue [newenglishreview.org]
      The Truth about Islamic Crusades and Imperialism [americanthinker.com]
      The Church Educates Europe [catholicbible101.com]

      Pharmaceuticals spend billions developing new versions of dick hardening pills, while research into HIV, cancer, and other serious quality of life diseases languish.

      Languish at their current high levels of research funding [plosone.org]? HIV and cancer research seem to do especially well.

      Curing a patient means denying yourself all that profit from name-brand life-saving drugs. I could come up with a hundred more examples from every industry in every country worldwide -- but you get the point.

      I think the point is that you have an exaggerated sense of what is possible - the "Man on the moon syndrome [reuters.com]", maybe? Modern medicine offers wond

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        Rather slanted articles you posted. They're an interesting mixture of facts and propaganda, but I do think they're right in their assertion that the Catholic Church was far from being the cause of the Dark Ages. Their impedance of learning didn't start until centuries later. But they were also extremely intolerant of anything that flew in the face of Catholic theology. Usually this was some competing theology, such as that of the Muslims, the Cathars and later the Protestants, none of which are scientifi

    • by paiute (550198)

      Pharmaceuticals spend billions developing new versions of dick hardening pills, while research into HIV, cancer, and other serious quality of life diseases languish.

      Bullshit.

      • by C0R1D4N (970153)
        In fact viagra was discovered as a side effect to another more useful drug being researched and was just taken advantage of.
    • by tsa (15680)

      Yes. Interesting case in point, here in The Netherlands our government banned The Pirate Bay. Now a scientific study was conducted, and the conclusions were that banning TPB did not decrease the amount of downloading going on in the Netherlands. BREIN (the Dutch RIAA) of course is angry about this and calls the conclusions 'irresponsible. [www.nu.nl]' Of course they don't explain themselves.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Pharmaceuticals spend billions developing new versions of dick hardening pills, while research into HIV, cancer, and other serious quality of life diseases languish.

      Have you actually looked at such research? There are vast amounts spent on HIV, cancer, etc. These are in no way "languishing". As to "dick hardening", a decline in enjoyment of sex is an obvious quality of life issue for many older men and women (these drugs can help both sexes, not just men). What would the point be of extending life span without a corresponding effort to improve the quality of that extra lifespan?

      all because we tolerate allowing people to become too rich and powerful, and invariably they turn into sociopaths and destroy us

      Well, it wasn't a problem for the past few centuries. The wealthiest and most powerful just

  • From TFA: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cynop (2023642) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @04:44AM (#41720269)

    "The evidence was based on studies conducted between 2005-2009 by a group led by Lennart Hardell, a cancer specialist at the University Hospital in Orebro in Sweden. The court said the research was independent and “unlike some others, was not co-financed by the same companies that produce mobile telephones.”

    I suppose this marks a turning point in public opinion. Not as a time that correlation between cell phones and cancer was proven, but for the time people started distrusting researches concluding that "no link has been found". I can only think this is a good thing. We've been down this road before with cigarettes.

    • The court said the research was independent and “unlike some others, was not co-financed by the same companies that produce mobile telephones.”

      Some implies a minority. Single study < a minority < the majority. Which implies that the majority of the research "not co-financed by the same companies that produce mobile telephones" says no

    • by jkflying (2190798)

      So a study funded by a cancer researcher isn't biased, whereas a study co-funded by cellphone companies is?

      • by delt0r (999393)
        People often miss that part of things. There is always an agenda. Need a publication for that PhD or Tenure? Need something interesting for that next grant proposal.

        In God we trust, the rest of you show me the data. Data from these studies are typically poor and often just very very sloppy analysis has been done. Often straight out incorrect statistics has been done or the stats doesn't support the claims.

        In this particular instance (cell phones and cancer), we have the problem that if there is such an
        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          Bell curves. Learn to love the human diversity.

          Why can't people understand that the world they live in is not the same as the world everybody else lives in.

    • The whole point is that for years and years now I've been hearing that there are conflicting studies and you really should be using a hands-free if you use the cell phone a lot, you know, just in case. And the recommendation goes on to avoiding wired hands-free as Bluetooth should probably be safer. My 70 year old mother has heard of this and uses Bluetooth, since she is on her phone a lot (but of course not 5-6 hours/day), I am sure an executive would have heard this. So, did he take the advice or just ris

      • You're going to use a microwave radio that you stick in your ear to protect yourself from a microwave radio that you would hold next to your ear?

        • by Ecuador (740021)

          You are going to use a 1mW (or 2.5mW for class 2) microwave radio next to your ear (the in-ear part is not the transmitter), to avoid using a 1W transmitter next to your ear. For reference, going up another 1000x in power brings us to 1kW which is the average microwave oven. Are you suggesting a phone is not safer than a microwave oven?
          So, if 1/1000th of the cell phone power was still quite dangerous, people would have been dropping like flies from cell phone usage (just think about the early US analog syst

          • But higher up you wrote: "And the recommendation goes on to avoiding wired hands-free as Bluetooth should probably be safer."

            Wired don't transmit at all, so how can something that does (even very weakly) be safer?

            • by Ecuador (740021)

              "Wired don't transmit at all"?? You do realize we are talking about a conductor connected to a to a transceiver (phone), right? (Some phones even use the hands free explicitly as an FM antenna).
              In any case, the wired hands free reduces exposure levels significantly in most cases, but certainly not by a factor of 1000, mostly because hands-free sets are not designed for this purpose specifically (having good insulation etc). In fact there were studies that showed that in certain configurations (e.g. when the

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      "The evidence was based on studies conducted between 2005-2009 by a group led by Lennart Hardell, a cancer specialist at the University Hospital in Orebro in Sweden. The court said the research was independent and “unlike some others, was not co-financed by the same companies that produce mobile telephones.”

      I suppose this marks a turning point in public opinion. Not as a time that correlation between cell phones and cancer was proven, but for the time people started distrusting researches concluding that "no link has been found". I can only think this is a good thing. We've been down this road before with cigarettes.

      No link being found is the a priori expected result in most studies, because most possible causes and effects are unrelated. For instance, I would expect there to be no positive link found between use of Gillette shaving cream and diabetes because there is no obvious reason to think that choice of shaving cream brand should affect diabetes or vice-versa. However, when studying two things with an obvious physiological or chemical link, such as sugar ingestion and diabetes, one would expect a correlation to

  • Controls? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by srussia (884021) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @05:07AM (#41720351)
    FTFS: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.

    Heck, I'd probably get a tumor too if I held a rock against ear 5-6 hours a day for 12 years.
  • >>> 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 ...
    Maybe he was holding it wrong [engadget.com]
    Apple already foresaw this and avoided it altogether in their phones.
    Too bad other companies cant use this solution since Apple obviously hold the patent.
  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @05:35AM (#41720439)
    Um if you spend that much time with a cell phone glued to your head, why not get a hands free option. then he wouldn't have that much time with the phone to his head.
  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday October 21, 2012 @06:19AM (#41720573) Homepage

    i've met someone who also had a tumour develop behind his ear - the same one where he was using a phone. over 15 years ago he was a sales executive, on the road a lot, and he had one of those "brick" mobile phones. they had to be powerful because the number of cell towers was less than it is now. again, he was holding the device up to his ear for over 6 hours a day.

    the problem was that it took 13 years for the tumour to develop to the point where it became painful enough for him to notice something was wrong. by the time he noticed it, the tumour was one centimetre diameter. he's retired, now, having had surgery.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 21, 2012 @06:53AM (#41720675)
      Interesting. I once knew someone who developed a brain tumor in his head -- the same head he had been drinking water with for the previous ten years. His tumor didn't develop immediately either, and by the time it was discovered, it had become inoperable. He's not around to tell the story, now, having died. Heck, I've even heard that every single person who has ever died because of a tumor has had a history of water use. Pretty damn scary if you ask me!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I once knew someone who developed a brain tumor in his head

        Ach, now, if he had a brain tumor anywhere but his head, this would have been an interesting story...

      • by khallow (566160)
        Use the proper name, dihydrogen monoxide or DHMO for short! "Water" is an industry trademark that hides the noxious, foul chemical nature of the substance.
        • DHMO itself is a minimizing name disguising the caustic nature of Hydric Acid, a solvent powerful enough to eat through steel, and which is found in many industrial cleaning products.

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            Yet another name by the water-industrial complex to cover up the danger of hydrogen hydroxide. I'm pretty sure the hydrogen is related to that found in nuclear weapons, but the man will never let you know that.

          • by dkf (304284)

            Hydroxonium hydroxide is indeed a pest, being involved in a large number of chemical spills and a major cause of the Fukushima nuclear incident.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Fuck that, did you know that water is poisonous? It recently killed a young girl that just happened to drink too much.

        Terrible carcinogenic poison, that water.

        (For clueless: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_poisoning [wikipedia.org])

  • In France in the 90s I remember that a judge decided to grant compensation to people who got multiple sclerosis who claimed that it was linked to hepatitis B vaccine. Of course the scientific community completely debunked that link. The only reason some people who got it after vaccination was that tons of people got that vaccination at the same time, so coincidences were very very likely to happen.

    Anyway, it is good thing for "equality of chances". If you sucked at school, you can become a judge.

  • Physicist here. (Score:5, Informative)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @07:03AM (#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.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Apparently these aren't well known facts or you wouldn't hear all the science fan boi parrots squawking all over this thread.

      Second, who really reads manuals? Executives??? You're assuming that he had a manual, what if it was a company phone given with no manual? You know what happens when you ass-u-me things right?

      BTW, what you're saying is basically equivalent to: That slut got what she deserved, did you see all the slutty clothes she was wearing. You dress like that and you're just asking to be rape

      • by drolli (522659)

        No that was not what i was saying. I was not judging the guy, but the question if the producer of the phone should be held liable.

        I think that the phone itself is a tool which radiates withou judging to reach the next cell tower. It has a well defined range of use, and there were warnings about exactly this, namely using the phone for long times, uninterruped, close to your ear.

        Yes, sure, you can ignoe warnings, but its your choice. Sure, maybe you dont read manuals, but its your choice. Yes, maybe the comp

        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          Actually, I think you're allowed to sue and win for all those situations in the US. Not saying I agree with that. However, you do realize that companies put that stuff in their manuals etc... simply to protect themselves right? It's a phone, it's meant to be used. It's like what every single keyboard manufacturer writes in their manuals and puts stickers on their keyboards for. They KNOW people aren't going to stop using their keyboards, they won't change their designs (because it sells), and that simp
    • by green1 (322787)

      Could you link to some of these "well known" studies about heating? Because the last one I saw completely failed in it's scientific method by not using any controls for increased activity due to listening to a conversation, or differentiating between real and placebo effects.
      If there are other better studies I'm genuinely curious.

      • I'm also skeptical - holding just about anything to your ear for an extended period of time will result in that area warming, if only because your hand's bodyheat will warm the area. Considering we're talking about a device that generates a fraction of watt when on full power, and where that energy will dissipate in all directions, not just towards the head, I find it improbable, to say the least, that the energy from the phone itself will do anything of significance.

        Or maybe that's it. Maybe people are

        • by drolli (522659)

          Luckily this queston is easy to answer. The maximum SAR value ranges typically from 0.4-1W/kg, which, according to the standard in EU must ne measured in a model which reproduces the shape of a typical head and its electromagnetif proerties. The 10g with the highes exposure are determined and compared to the limit of 2W/kg. so that means that we expose a few square cm to less than 20mW.

          Rought estimation:

          assumign a typical heat dissipation by convection ~5W/Km^2 and an inner conduction on the order of ~.5W/K

          • Your calculations completely ignore the fact that blood is flowing through the area. If the area is warmer than the blood, heat will be absorbed by the blood and carried throughout the body (which is quite good at eliminating excess heat).

            More obviously; if a temperature increase of 1-2 degrees was enough to cause harm, everyone who ever had a fever would be permanently damaged and we'd all be avoiding sunlight as if we were vampires.

            • by drolli (522659)

              a) Looking up one more time: No, the value, as a mean value is roughly right (ranging from 7W/Km^2 ... 50W/m^2).

              b) Having fever for one day is ok. Having it for one week is ok. Going into the sun, your body immediatly regulating your sweating, is ok. Unless you get some heat stroke, which is not uncommon. The question is: you body will not regulte the temperature so local and you are doing that every day. Even the briefest looking using you favourite method of searching would have told you that you immun

          • by green1 (322787)

            so... no actual peer reviewed scientific study then?

    • by Misagon (1135)

      In the case of 'a', there have been a few studies that have shown that there can be a real effect. You have not looked enough.
      One problem is that radiation in different frequency band can have different effects, or none. The science that has been done has been done on 1G and 2G frequencies, while most people that use a mobile phone a lot are using 3G, or even 4G these days.

  • In Other News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @07:12AM (#41720775) Homepage

    Six billion cell phone subscriptions [huffingtonpost.com]
    22,910 new brain tumor cases in USA in 2012 [cancer.gov] out of 300M people or 0.008% of the population.

    So practically everybody on the planet old enough to use one has a cellphone, but practically nobody on the planet gets a brain tumor.

    • Re:In Other News (Score:4, Insightful)

      by steppedleader (2490064) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @07:40AM (#41720865)
      Good point. Seems to me the biggest issue with the whole idea of cell phones causing brain tumors is simply the fact that while cell phone use has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, there hasn't been any corresponding increase in brain tumor occurrence. If those two things aren't even correlated, how can anyone conclude that cell phones actually cause brain tumors?

      Someone could claim there is a time lag for tumor development, but these sporadic cases of supposedly cell-phone-linked tumors have been popping up for years and years now, while the overall tumor rate has stayed mysteriously constant.
    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      To build on that, even if there were an increase in brain tumors over the last 20 years, how would we separate the effects of cell phone use from other changes in that time frame? Cell phone towers, wi-fi routers, over-oven microwaves (where people stand inches away from the door while their dinner defrosts) have all increased in the last 20 years. Even among heavy cell-phone users, there are other potential factors. As another slashdaughter once posted, cell phones are typically made of plastic and alumin
      • by tsotha (720379)
        There are other wrinkles as well. Mobile phones from 20 years ago used much more power than modern phones - most of the "brick" was battery. Even if you could show using a mobile from 1990 12 hours a day caused some detectable increase in brain tumors, you still haven't shown the phones people use today are capable of the same. And by the time you do, there will be a new generation with different characteristics.
    • by green1 (322787)

      And this is yet another thing all the "OMG cell phones cause cancer" people keep failing to account for... actual cancer statistics.
      Do you have any stats on brain tumours pre-cell phone? or that have been attributed to other causes?
      For that matter, cell phone use has been growing exponentially for years, so it should be easy to see the same exponential growth of brain tumours right? Of course not... but let's not let science get in the way of our panic.

  • I have never once worried about cellphones causing cancer. I understand how non-ionizing radiation works, and have built a suitable tin-foil hat.
  • FTA:

    Italy’s supreme court rejected an INAIL appeal against that ruling on October 12 though its decision was only reported on Friday.

    INAIL - I'm Not An Italian Lawyer ???

    • by lbbros (900904)

      INAIL - Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro, that is "National institute for work accidents insurance".

      It handles (mandatory) insurance for any type of work contract, IIRC.

  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Sunday October 21, 2012 @10:26AM (#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...."

    • by Nyder (754090)

      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...."

      Italy needs to get some clean water or something, they are seriously retarded. Probably has to do with having the Pope in their country.

      People want to blame bad stuff happening on everything but the truth. Bad shit happens. That dude got a tumor. Would he have a tumor if there was no cell phones? Most likely. Would he blame something else? Definitely. Probably on a mp3 player because he wears it when he works out or something stupid like that.

      Sure, there are people who get sick because they

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