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Tattoo Health Risks – Research Raises Cancer Concerns

Posted on September 15 2011

tattoo health


Smoking, drinking, tanning, hair dye and even cell phones have been implicated in the increase of cancer diagnoses and soon, tattoos may be added to the list. A study recently turned up with findings that tattoo ink contained toxic chemicals that cause skin cancer. Such studies require a lot of work, often involving equipment like Microfuges and the like to properly examine every component that is a part of the study itself.

These suggestions piqued the interest of the Food and Drug Administration and they have since launched its own investigation into the long-term safety of tattoo inks, including what happens when they break down in the body or fade from light exposure.

Concerns over tattoo ink are nothing new allergic reactions, skin infections, psoriasis, dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions, and tumors (both benign, and malignant) have all been associated with tattoos, but this is the first mention of ink being associated with cancer.

No Current FDA Regulation

The FDA regulates some of the ingredients in cosmetics worn on the skin which have contents like distilled water within them, as well as vitamins, drugs, and additives ingested into the body, but it does not regulate tattoo ink. In the past, their official stance has been:

“Because of other public health priorities and a previous lack of evidence of safety concerns, FDA has not traditionally regulated tattoo inks or the pigments used in them.”

Study Findings

In short the study said that the inks used for tattoos can contain phthalates, metals, and hydrocarbons that are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Black ink can have a chemical called benzo(a)pyrene, known to be a potent carcinogen that caused skin cancer in animal studies. Colored ink may contain lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium and other heavy metals that could lead to allergies or diseases. People should consider closely before getting tattoos as allergens are of different kinds and the impact can be even unhealthy. Of course, most healthy people who maintain proper weight and diet by taking adequate supplements (for instance, by checking these Gundry MD offers) may not have many health-altering effects from tattoo ink.

What do you think about the FDA’s worry?


No doubt, cancer is no laughing matter, and the FDA should investigate so people can make informed decisions but when it comes to being concerned as to whether or not my tattoos put me at a greater risk of cancer? We are well aware smoking has some major and minor implications in long-term usage. Of the most unknown minor effects of smoking is ED, but a lot of men find it manageable with medications and withdrawal. Repercussions of tattooing are not something one can withdraw whenever needed.

Well, given I grew up in a chain-smoker household, enjoy cheap wine, dye my hair, love the sun, use birth control pills and am constantly using my cell (all elements to be on the known to be human carcinogens report) I guess I personally am not all that concerned.

How about you?

About the author of “Tattoo Health Risks – Research Raises Cancer Concerns”:
Nicole Bodem is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to the Tat2X blog.