In recent years, tattoos have become increasingly popular and the stigma surrounding body art has receded significantly. People from all over the world are choosing to decorate their bodies with ink as a way to express themselves in creative ways but are paying little attention to the risks posed to human health. From celebrities to politicians and influencers, everyone is inking their bodies. As tattoos become more and more common, we can’t help but wonder: are they really safe?
Tattoos are created by using mechanized needles to puncture the skin. That itself is a major risk to our health! If you are confused that doctors, nurses and pretty much the whole medical world is also known for using needles for various purposes, then why is inking being termed as risky? The answer is simple: a tattoo is a permanent kind of body art. The design is made by puncturing the skin with needles and injecting dyes, ink, and pigments into the deep layer of the skin. If the needles are not sterilized and are reused on another customer, it can pose risks of contracting HIV, Hepatitis, Herpes and what not! (If that doesn’t sound worrying, I don’t know what does!)
That’s not it. The risks associated with getting tattooed are far worse, the most common one being skin cancer. While studies concerned with this connection have been inconclusive, there are still some pieces of evidence to suggest that the ingredients used in tattoo ink may be linked to cancer.
Black Tattoo Ink
Black tattoo ink, the most common choice of color, can be extremely dangerous when it comes to health. It is known to have a very strong association with causing skin cancer. This is because it contains a very high level of benzo(a)pyrene. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed this particular substance as a carcinogen. Since black tattoo ink is widely used, health researchers and officials are especially concerned about the effect of it.
“Blackout” tattoos also seem to be a cause of concern for health officials and researchers. This new trend is especially dangerous as it requires individuals to have large areas of their bodies covered in thick, solid, heavy black ink. Alongside the fear of carcinogens, researchers are also concerned about the way the tattoo covers the body. One of the earliest sign of skin cancer is skin pigmentation, particular melanoma. So when the body is “blacked out” with ink, it may become difficult for an individual to notice these changes right away. For this reason, tattoos should not be placed over birthmarks, pre-existing moles, abnormalities or skin discolorations.
The fading tattoo is another concern for cancer researchers. Over time, tattoos begin to lose their pigmentation and fade. Although that sounds like a plus, it’s not!
Blackout tattoos tend to fade much faster and when a tattoo begins to lose its color it can result in the production of cancer-causing compounds. There is also growing concern regarding the lack of regulation of tattoo ink. While the cases have been uncommon, unregulated inks are still likely to contain carcinogens. Without proper checks, it is possible that cancer-causing inks are used, and that too, without the knowledge of the customer and even the tattoo artist (Scary. I know!)
While there is no study to suggest that tattoos will 100% cause skin cancer, you should always think twice when deciding to get inked, maybe even take necessary precautions.
Look for reputable tattoo artists who know what they’re using and doing. Don’t hold back and discuss the nitty gritty details of your tattoo with your artist. After all, getting a tattoo is a life-changing decision which involves significant risk. Find out where the ink was produced and the laws that particular country holds regarding cosmetic products. It’s also a good idea to take note of the ink and manufacturer, should any unusual irritation occur to report these details to your doctor.
While tattoos can be a unique and fun way to express yourself it is always important to consider the health factors before you take the needle.
Think before you get inked!