So our worst fears have been confirmed - Tetris does indeed cause cancer. A statistically significant increase in the incidence of malignant tumors, lymphomas and leukemias have been found in laboratory rats forced to play the popular computer puzzle game over extended periods.
It is no secret that cancer researchers had long suspected that highly addictive single-screen puzzle games such as Tetris, Columns (Sega) carried high levels carcinogenicity. This new study however, accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), seems to place the matter beyond all doubt.
Those behind the study have called for an "urgent re-evaluation" of the current guidelines governing both the use and availablity of such puzzle games.
"Professor Kevin Prostasis who headed the study said, "Tetris has always been known to be addictive. Now we know that it is dangerously addictive".
They have issued a plea to computer games manufacturers to cease production of games of this nature or, failing this, urged government health authorities to make mandatatory the printing of health risks across the boxes.
Tetris was invented by Alexey Pazhitnov (last name sometimes transliterated Pajitnov) in 1985, while he was working for the Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia during the days of the Soviet Union. He was unavailable for comment.
Professor Kevin Prostasis who headed the study said, "Tetris has always been known to be addictive. Now we know that it is dangerously addictive. For years, computer games manufacturers have continued to produce and sell these games blissfully overlooking the potential long term side-effects".
"Many of the rats forced to play tetris for periods of or over 6 hours developed inoperable lung cancer within days".
Because the study's results were so shockingly definitive, Professor Prostasis said said it may "force us to rethink our whole approach as to how we combat the killer virus".
He explained, "There's a strong possiblilty that Tetris is not simply just a cause of cancer but rather the sole cause of all cancers. I know people say smoking, over-exposure to sunlight and other so called "bad habits" are contributary factors. So far however, the evidence to support these, although fairly strong, is flimsy in comparison to our Tetris findings. This study is watertight - Tetris DOES cause cancer, there's no two ways about it".
Prostasis said the long-held notion that smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer may now be "misguided". He said many of the rats forced to play tetris for periods of or over 6 hours "developed inoperable lung cancer within days".
This also might explain, he said, why non-smokers, such as the late Christoper Reeves' late wife, Dana, a woman who hardly ever touched a cigarette, developed the condition.
Prostasis said, "I believe Dana enjoyed playing tetris as a means of killing time while she waited in the hospital lobby for her husband to finish up his lengthy physio sessions".
The study found that rats who scored the highest number of lines per game incurred the deadliest sorts of cancers, whereas rats that only reached the second level say, contracted milder more treatable forms.
Critics of the study have said that rats and humans each possess a different genetic make-up and are therefore not subject to the same sort of health risks.
"For anybody who was or still is addicted, if they haven't died already, I would be surprised if they made it through the next five years."
Prostasis disagrees and says that "although humans and rats do have a contrasting genetic framework, fundamentally speaking, cancer attacks both their immune systems in the same way".
He added that "in view of the study's inarguable conclusivity, the human consequences are simple, straightforward and horrifying".
Outling the doomsday scenario with a professorial air of clinical precision, he said, "Those who have played tetris in the past for any moderate length of time - say two hours per day over a two/three week period - are almost certain definitely develop some form of cancer throughout their lifetimes. For anybody who was or still is addicted, if they haven't died already, I would be surprised if they made it through the next five years. Quitting tetris now might make a slight difference in terms of life expectancy but really if you are or have been addicted, the chances are the damage has already been done".
What of "passive tetris players", people who have only watched others play such as mothers standing over the shoulder of a child who's playing tetris on a PC, nagging at him or her to do their homework whilst casting involuntary glances at the computer screen.
Prostasis said, "The side-effects of passive tetris viewing is a little bit harder to calculate as none of the rats in our study could be labelled passive participants as it were. If I were to hazard an educated guess however, I would say that simply watching someone else play, particularly over long periods, could very well have a carcinogenic effect".
If you are worried that you or a loved one may have played or watched someone play Tetris at some point in the past, you can call a Tetri-cancer-care-line on 9234235351359314931481304813040141. That number again is 9234235351359314931481304813040141. And once more in case you missed it 9234235351359314931481304813040141.