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expert reaction to Italian ruling on brain tumours and mobile phone use

A court in Italy ruled that the development of a brain tumour in a man was caused by his mobile phone use.


Emeritus Professor Patricia McKinney at the University of Leeds said:

“Many detailed and comprehensive scientific reports on the health risks of mobile phone use have failed to find a link with brain tumours.  The rates of brain tumours have not risen in recent decades despite the increasing numbers of mobile users, although evidence for long term use requires further research.”


Professor Malcolm Sperrin, Director of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, said:

“Without knowing anything significant about this patient, what seems to be claimed is that the phone has been used a huge amount, and that the patient has developed a condition.  The link is that the phone is present; but not necessarily that the phone has caused the effect. 

“It may, for instance, be the case that nerve damage could have been caused by long-term localised pressure or that the local temperature has risen because of reduced heat transmission from the skin as a result of the phone being in place.  The conclusion is that we don’t know – and hence the underlying premise of ‘more studies being needed’ simply reiterates what is already stated by the broader scientific community.  It has also reasonably been clearly pointed out that very extended use of mobile telephones may be an elevated risk indicator, but there is no claim as to the mechanism.

“It is not clear what reliable scientific evidence has been submitted to justify a perceived link between mobile exposure and risk.  Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumours.”


Dr Michael Repacholi, Visiting Professor at University of Rome “La Sapienza” and former coordinator of the World Health Organization’s Electromagnetic Fields Project, said:

“I have recently published a thorough, systematic and transparent review of all the scientific evidence on this topic along with 14 other international scientist co-authors.  We all agree that there is no link between brain cancer and mobile phone use.  This is in line the World Health Organization’s statement that ‘…an increased risk of brain cancer has not been established’. 

“Of course we would always like to see more research.  But this Italian court ruling has not, in my opinion, been based on sound scientific evidence.  Furthermore the Italian Courts take little effort to ensure they obtain advice from established experts in the EMF area.”


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