Tattoos are art forms that are present in the history of various cultures around the globe. Depending on one’s perspective, tattoos can be associated with diverse meanings. While scientists are yet to discover the long-term effects of inking on the human body, a novel #Research study suggests that tattoos are harmful to the human lymph nodes.

Tattoo pigments travel to human lymph nodes

Lymph node stains are common on people with tattoos. Lymph nodes are integral to the human immune system. According to New Atlas, its main function is to fight off infections. Since tattoos cause wounds, the lymph nodes respond by cleaning the entrance of the #Tattoo Ink.

Advertisements
Advertisements

According to Gizmodo, this very mechanism is the sources of the stains observed in the lymph nodes of tattooed individuals.

Unfortunately, the specific types of particles that reach the nodes remain unidentified. Getting inked is a cosmetic choice, so the study of its implications to the human body is quite unpopular. At present, basic toxicology aspects remain uncertain. Further, the use of animal subjects to conduct experiments is considered unethical due to a lack of medical necessity.

Luckily, researchers from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin in collaboration with researchers from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France took an interest. Using a cutting-edge X-ray technology, the study has identified the minute ink particles that get stuck in the human lymph nodes.

Advertisements

To conduct the study, the researchers sourced skin and lymph node samples from both tattooed and non-tattooed deceased human donors. Chemical analysis of the samples from inked donors revealed elevated levels of copper, aluminum, iron, chromium, nickel, cadmium, and mercury in the nodes and skin. A high level of titanium was also observed from the samples sourced from inked donors.

The inorganic pigments that form part of the ingredients used to produce tattoo inks are toxic impurities to the human body. For example, Titanium Dioxide which is also present in paints and sunblock lotions is associated with skin irritations and itching. The substance is also known to cause delayed healing of wounds.

The research team also found evidence that long-term deposition of toxic elements leads to chronic enlargement of the lymph nodes. The group is determined to pursue further experiments to explore the possible adverse effects of tattoo pigments.

One of the project’s lead author Hiram Castillo shares an important advice to all those who are interested in getting a tattoo. Apart from checking if the needles are sterile, Castillo says checking on the chemical composition of the inks to be used is critical as well.