Think Before You Get The Ink...

Tattoos are almost as common as clothes, cars and art. Millions of people around the world have at least one tattoo. I've got nothing against them... in fact, many of my friends and a few family members have been 'inked' with an emblem or design that means something special.

The tattoo industry has also cleaned up its act and some tattoo parlors are now regarded by some tattoo fans as being more hygienic than most hospitals! I can understand how some may believe this is true as many tattoo artists not only take pride in their design and work, but also their hygiene standards.

So what is the point of this blog entry?

Well, this article by Dr Glenn Braunstein featured on the Huffington Post website discusses tattoos and balances the good and bad between getting inked and leaving your skin ink free.

I must be honest, I initially thought that the article was going to heavily criticize tattoos but I was rather surprised by Dr Braunstein’s well-argued comments and justified statements. Like me, he doesn’t seem to have anything against tattoos and the industry...however, he does warn the reader to do some research into various chemicals found in tattoo ink.

Consider the following excerpt from the article:

“Tattooing can require injections of substantial amounts of black ink, meaning large amounts of chemicals shot into and under the skin; many of these chemicals -- such as benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogen found to cause skin cancer in animal tests -- are toxic, so some advocates have called for further scrutiny and oversight of tattoo inks."

“The study also suggests that the substances in black tattoo inks -- materials known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) -- migrate into subjects' lymph nodes, which aid an individual's body in filtering out disease-causing organisms."

“The FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research is investigating tattoo inks and whether their movement in the body has health consequences. Tattoo pigments are subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation, but the agency's website says that, ‘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.’"

“While some tattoo inks contain pigments that are FDA-approved, others use materials more typically associated with automotive and industrial paints. A study in the Archives of Dermatology examined samples of 30 tattoo inks and identified aluminum, oxygen, titanium and carbon as the most common elements in them, with researchers concluding components vary vastly.”

Braunstein suggests at the end of his article that those contemplating on getting a tattoo should think about how they would feel about the tattoo in 10 or even 20 years. Considering how skin ages and subsequently appears on various parts of the body as fine lines, wrinkles etc...the design and artwork of the tattoo may deteriorate prompting the person to consider having it removed.

Nevertheless, the article is no doubt one of many discussing tattoos and the potential health risks associated with them.

Like most things in life, there are good and bad aspects to practically everything we do, eat, drink or use as transport...the key is to get as much information as possible and therefore make informed decisions based on your own judgment and choice.

3 Responses

Thanks for the update and information Sara…not to mention the laugh regarding your ‘blank ink’ comment.

The Otago University is well respected for its medical facilities and from what you’ve mentioned, the anatomy museum sounds very interesting indeed.

Xtend-Life Expert March 21 2012

Of course, I meant *black ink, not blank ink. Stupid phone…

Blank ink wouldn’t make a very good tattoo…

Sara Lake March 21 2012

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