A sentence of the Court of Appeal of Turin brought to the front pages of today rejects a gloomy light on the relationship between the use of mobile telephony tools and the onset of tumors. The ruling is sent directly to the newspapers by the winner of the court, as reported by Repubblica.it: "This was announced by the lawyers Renato Ambrosio and Stefano Bertone, from the Turin law firm Ambrosio and Commodo. According to the Court "there is a scientific covering law that supports the affirmation of the causal link according to the probabilistic criteria 'more likely than not'". If you imagine the process as those of the TV series, where the principle of "beyond all reasonable doubt" applies, forget this perception: the legal clash over the relationship between mobile phones and tumors gravitates on much more slippery terrain and on which it is necessary to pay close attention.
The Court of Ivrea had sentenced Inail to pay a life annuity from occupational disease to Roberto Romeo, 57, employee of a large company, who had been diagnosed with cancer after having used his cell phone for more than three hours for 15 years per day. The labor judge of the Ivrea Court, Luca Fadda, recognized that the benign but disabling tumor contracted by man was caused by the incorrect use of the mobile phone
The law firm has been fighting a specific battle on the matter for some time and has brought home its results, which are not intended to be discussed since this discussion pertains to the mere jurisprudential sphere: it is the courts that write the sentences. What is most interesting is to return to the starting point, the one that most affects the end user: what relationship is there between cell phones and tumors? What risk is there really?
Cell phones and tumors: what science says
If in jurisprudential terms the word remains with the courts, in scientific terms the word must remain with entities such as theHigher Institute of Health. And they are words of a few months ago, when in August 2019 the body explained that
Based on current epidemiological evidence, the use of the mobile phone is not associated with the incidence of malignancies in the areas most exposed to RF during voice calls. The meta-analysis of the numerous studies published in the period 1999-2017 does not reveal any increase in the risks of malignant (glioma) or benign tumors (meningioma, acoustic neuroma, salivary gland tumors) in relation to prolonged use (≥10 years ) of mobile phones.
While lawyers refer to the classification IARC of 2011, which labeled radio frequencies in "group 2B" as "possible carcinogenic entities", the ISS weakens this judgment on the basis of new scientific evidence:
Compared to the IARC assessment in 2011, the risk estimates considered in this meta-analysis are more numerous and more precise. The significant excesses of risk observed in some case-control studies are not consistent with the temporal trend of the incidence rates of brain tumors which, almost 30 years after the introduction of cell phones, have not been affected by the rapid and significant increase in prevalence of exposure. (…) The hypothesis of an association between RF emitted by radio and television antennas and the incidence of childhood leukemia, suggested by some geographical correlation analyzes, does not appear confirmed by epidemiological studies with individual data and exposure estimates based on geospatial propagation models.
Lawyers who obtained their client's appeal on appeal repeatedly recall the conclusions of the IARC and an Interphone search, but the same document (available online) seems instead to be rather cautious in drawing conclusions:
The ruling was however based on a specific tumor, for which some research on mice has highlighted what appear to be clear evidence of a causal cell-carcinoma relationship. However, these researches were contested because they are difficult to contextualize on the current use of mobile phones by man, since 2G / 3G networks were used, the different exposure was not considered, nor was the different size taken into consideration ( the difference lies in the exposure of a single part of the body instead of the totality of the same). Too many questions to reach a conclusion "beyond any reasonable doubt", in short.
A healthy situation has been in place for some time by the World Health Organization precautionary principle: although to date there is no scientific evidence linking the use of cell phones and the onset of tumors, it is not even possible to prove the contrary beyond any reasonable doubt. And it must be doubt that stimulates new long-term research by scientists and a conscious use of tools by consumers. The advice in force by the WHO is to not make calls too long if not through earphones, thus removing the source of radio frequencies and thus heavily reducing their exposure. In the meantime the sentences will write the jurisprudence and the scientific researches will write the truth.