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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, March 25, 2013

How Safe (or Unsafe) Are Tattoos? Can Tattoo Ink Lead to Cancer?

African American With Tattoo

Tattoos are on the rise. Professional sports players, musicians, celebrities, and people from ordinary walks of life are all sporting ink art from head to toe - literally. Aside from the fact that tattooing is painful, and also permanent, what are the other risks than should be considered before deciding to get a tattoo?

Infections can occur and in fact are common results from tattoos. They can range anywhere from bacterial infections to hepatitis C caused by non-sterile methods of tattooing. Allergic reactions to the ink are also common.

Low levels of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) have been found in tattoo ink. Skin cancers, including melanomas, have been reported to occur within tattoo sites. The inks used in tattoos contain solvents and metals such as lead and mercury, as well as dyes with plastic-based pigments that are also used for computer printers and car paint. It is a risk to inject such substances into the body.

Removing tattoos can pose an even greater risk of cancer. The removal process uses heat to remove the pigment and this can cause chemical reactions that result in carcinogenic products being absorbed by the body. In fact, some scientists say it can increase up to 70 times greater with the use of red and yellow pigments.

So, if you're considering a tattoo, do the research first to be sure you make an informed decision. If you still want to proceed, make sure you go to a licensed, professional tattoo artist. Let them know immediately if you experience any reactions. If the reactions continue for over a week, seek medical attention by a dermatologist.
DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practitioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.