Cancer Linked to Cellphone Use, Italian Court Rules in Landmark Case

Janice Williams

For the first time ever, a judge in Italy has ruled that excessive cellphone use can result in brain cancer. Roberto Romeo, 57, worked for Telecom Italia, a telecommunications company, for 15 years and said constant use of his mobile phone for work-related purposes caused him to develop a tumor in his brain, Agence France-Presse reported.

Following the verdict, which was released to the public Thursday, an Italian court in Iverea awarded Romeo a state-funded pension of about $535 a month after a medical examiner determined Romeo’s brain cancer damaged 23 percent of his bodily function. The pension will be paid out to Romeo by national insurance company INAIL, which covers workplace accident claims.

An Italian court rules brain cancer was caused by excessive cell phone use.

A delegate uses her cellphone to buy a M-Akiba bond during the launch of the first mobile-phone-based government bond at the Treasury building in Nairobi, Kenya on March 23, 2017. On April 11, 2017 An Italian court rules brain cancer was caused by excessive cellphone use. Thomas Mukoya/REUTERS

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During the trial, Romeo said he was forced to use his cellphone for about three to four hours every day for 15 years.

“I had no choice but to use my mobile to talk to colleagues and organize work—for 15 years I was calling all the time, from home, in the car,” he said. “I started to have the feeling of my right ear being blocked all the time and the tumor was diagnosed in 2010. Happily, it was benign but I can no longer hear anything because they had to remove my acoustic nerve.”

Back in 2016, researchers from the National Toxicology Program, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discovered a link between a specific type of radiation produced by cellphones and cancer in lab rats. More than 2,500 rats were exposed to cellphone radiation for nine hours a day over the course of two years, which caused a low incidence of male rodents developing two types of tumors including gliomas—brain cancer—and schwannomas—cancer in the heart.

Romeo’s lawyer, Stefano Berton, praised the court for not allowing the defense to submit cancer-based studies related to cellphones that had been financed by telecommunications companies as viable evidence. Bertone said it was the world's first trial court verdict "to recognize a link between cellphone use and the development of brain tumor."

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