Study Links Brain Tumors, Old Cell Phones
September 11, 2002
In what could bolster an $800 million lawsuit
against Motorola and major cell phone carriers, a new study found a possible
link between older cell phones and brain tumors.
Although many studies have found no cancer risk from cell phone use, the
research published in the latest European Journal of Cancer Prevention said
long-term users of analog phones are at least 30 percent more likely than
nonusers to develop brain tumors.
Newer digital phones emit less radiation than older analog models of the
The lawsuit against cell phone manufacturer Motorola was brought by
Christopher Newman, a Maryland doctor stricken with brain cancer. A federal
judge is expected to decide by month's end whether case should go to trial
and if so, whether the study can be used as evidence.
"From our perspective, and from a public health perspective, the court
should just be aware of what's out there," said Newman's attorney, John
Angelos, whose firm has made millions suing asbestos and tobacco companies.
If the case is allowed to go forward, it could open the door to other major
lawsuits against the wireless communication industry. So far, no similar
claims have been successful.
Motorola attorneys criticized the methodology of the new report, which was
written by Swedish oncologist Dr. Lennart Hardell.
Hardell studied 1,617 patients with brain tumors and compared them with a
similar-sized group of people without tumors. He found that patients who
used Sweden's Nordic Mobile telephones were 30 percent more likely to have
brain tumors, especially on the side of the head that touched the phone most
often. Those who used the phones longer than 10 years were 80 percent more
likely to develop tumors.
Newman's lawsuit names Motorola, Verizon and other wireless carriers. He
claims the analog cell phones he used from 1992 to 1998 caused him to
develop a cancerous brain tumor behind his right ear. The tumor was removed,
but Newman is blind in one eye, suffers memory loss and slowed speech and
can no longer work, his lawyers say.
Cell phones are used by 97 million Americans.
Digital phones emit radiation in pulses; older analog varieties emit
continuous waves. By the time cell phones exploded in popularity in the late
1990s, most of those sold used digital technology.
Three major studies published since December 2000, including one by the U.S.
National Cancer Institute, found no harmful health effects from cell phones.
Motorola attorney Norman Sandler questioned the author's theory that tumors
are more apt to develop near the ear that touches the receiver most often.
"His testimony raises significant questions about recall bias," he said. "Do
people who used the phones 10 years ago really remember what side of the
head they used?"