A British physician is refuting a claim that Eddie Van Halen contracted tongue cancer back in 2000 due to placing metallic guitar picks in his mouth. Van Halen's camp remains mum regarding the rumors that the guitar legend is battling either throat or lung cancer. According to a recent TMZ report, Van Halen has been traveling between the U.S. and Germany for treatment going on several years now. In 2000, surgeons removed roughly one-third of Van Halen's tongue due to the disease.
Back in 2015, Van Halen, a longtime heavy smoker and drinker, told Billboard the metalic picks were the cause for his illness: "I used metal picks — they're brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer. Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that's filled with electromagnetic energy. So that's one theory. . . This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it's possible."
According to Insider.com, Dr. Tom Micklewright, the medical officer at Push Doctor UK, guitar picks are most likely not the cause of Van Halen's cancer issues. He explained to Insider that neither copper nor the metals in brass are considered carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): "Copper coils have been used as contraception in the human body for many years without evidence in increased cancer risk. In contrast, numerous chemicals contained within cigarettes have been conclusively proven to significantly increase cancer risk, and the more likely cause of his throat cancer."
Micklewright went on to say that Van Halen may be confusing other metals, such as mercury, lead, cobalt, and nickel, which have been found to have carcinogenic effects: "However, the impact of these are far outweighed by the proven effect of tobacco smoke on a vast range of human cancers. It's disappointing to see so many publications focus on the metal in this case and miss the opportunity to reinforce the strong public health message about the harms of smoking."