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Italian court says brain tumor linked to cell phone

Italy's highest court has decided that an executive who was on his mobile phone five to six hours a day for the last 12 years is entitled to workers compensation benefits for a brain tumor. The ruling swims against the tide of scientific opinion and evidence, which has found no direct link between cell phones and brain tumors. The executive, Innocenzo Marcolini, won his case on the strength of research done at a university hospital in Orebro, Sweden. The justices said they were persuaded because the studies were independent and not financed by cell phone companies.

Already, other experts are warning not to read too much into the decision and, of course, it will have no effect on U.S. courts. Marcolini told the court he constantly held the phone to his left ear and took notes with his right through most of the work day. He applied for worker's comp after developing a benign tumor called a neuroinoma on his trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve controls biting, chewing, swallowing and facial sensation. Marcolini needed surgery that he says affected his quality of life.

In its ruling, the Italian supreme court said that Marcolini's brain tumor came from extensive cell phone use which was, "different from normal, non-professional use of a mobile telephone," and the scientific evidence presented in court made the claim "reliable." Questions surrounding the effects of radio frequency energy on brain tissue have been swirling for years. Some say having the antenna so close to the head beams unsafe levels of radiation into the brain. Skeptics say the phone transmitter's very low power output is not strong enough to do any damage.

Source: Reuters, "Italy court ruling links mobile phone use to tumor," Virginia Alimenti, Oct. 19, 2012

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