Uh-oh! Tattoos are cool, right? Unfortunately, new research published in the journal Scientific Reports suggested that getting tattoos could actually do more harm than good to a human body.

So, those who are planning to get a tattoo should really start to reconsider or think twice. The reason? Researchers at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, southeastern France found that getting a tattoo could be linked to cancer, thanks to the accumulation of toxic elements found in Tattoo Ink in the lymph nodes.

Chemical compositions

If you are getting a tattoo, you are probably more worried about the sterile needles that will be used by the artist in piercing the masterpiece you chose into your skin. But have you ever thought about the chemical compositions found in tattoo ink? Well, probably not.

This observation was also pointed out by study author Hiram Castillo-Michel who stressed that that people should start checking the “chemical composition of the colors” used in getting a tattoo.

In their recent findings, they discovered that the micro and nanoparticle chemicals compounds and pigments in tattoo ink could travel in the bloodstream and pile up in the lymph nodes, which lose their function to fight infections when they become swollen.

The main chemical culprit in tattoo colors is titanium dioxide, which is the second most common component found in tattoo ink. According to Daily Mail, the European Chemical Agency announced on June 9 that the substance could cause cancer when inhaled.

The chemical was also linked to healing delays and itching.

Researchers, who examined the skin samples and lymphatic tissues of four tattooed cadavers, also found elevated metal levels such as copper, nickel, chromium, aluminum, and iron. But in one of the corpses, they detected the presence of mercury and cadmium, which are both highly toxic, Smithsonian Mag noted.

The study

Through the use of X-ray fluorescence and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, the researchers were able to determine the foreign nanoparticles that accumulated in the lymphatic system and see the biomolecular changes in the tissue.

This led them to their findings that such contamination could result in lifelong exposure to toxic substances and chronic lymph nodes inflammation.

The researchers, however, are hoping to do a follow-up investigation since their study did not focus on the health effects that the tattoo ink could cause. Instead, they presented persuasive evidence that tattoo pigments could cause the enlargement of the lymph nodes.

Not safe

Even though the recent research still needed additional studies to identify the health impacts caused by tattoo pigments, Wolfgang Bäumler of the University Hospital Regensburg in Germany appeared to agree with Castillo-Michel’s study.

Bäumler, who was not involved in the research, told Deutsche Well that the colors used in tattoo inks were created for industrial purposes and were designed for cars and printers.

Tattoo ink companies reportedly recycle these pigments to create high-contrast and long-lasting tattoos, but the compounds never get tested for safety, Bäumler added. While Bäumler stressed that it remains uncertain whether getting a tattoo is indeed dangerous, a previous study reported in Scientific American suggested that getting inked could have an impact on one’s immune system.

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