Are Tattoos Bad? New Study Reveals Potential Health Risks of Inking

The survey also delved into the motivations behind getting inked

A recent study published in the journal Analytical Chemistry raises concerns about potential health risks associated with certain tattoo ink ingredients.

Led by John Swierk from Binghamton University, the study analysed nine major tattoo ink brands in the United States. It found that 45 out of 54 ink samples contained undisclosed additives or pigments linked to potential health risks.

One such additive identified in the study is polyethene glycol, a medication used for managing constipation, according to the National Institute of Health. While its presence in tattoo ink is concerning, further research is needed to understand the specific risks associated with this finding.

This study underscores the importance of choosing reputable tattoo artists who use high-quality, well-tested inks. It’s also crucial to discuss any concerns with your chosen artist and ensure they adhere to proper safety and hygiene protocols.

The study also identified 2-phenoxyethanol, another ingredient in some inks, as potentially hazardous. Exposure to high doses of this chemical can irritate the skin, lungs, and liver, and may even cause damage to the kidneys and nerves.

“We’re hoping the manufacturers take this as an opportunity to reevaluate their processes, and that artists and clients take this as an opportunity to push for better labelling and manufacturing,” said Swierk in the study.

“The FDA is still figuring out what that is going to look like, and we think this study will influence the discussions around MoCRA,” he added.

Beyond the potential risks identified in the recent study, getting a tattoo carries other health considerations. Mayo Clinic notes that tattoos can also lead to MRI complications because the pigments can interrupt the image’s quality.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in August 2023 revealed interesting insights into the growing popularity of tattoos. According to the data, 32% of adults in the survey reported having at least one tattoo. Notably, 22% of respondents with tattoos have at least two, suggesting a trend towards multiple tattoos.

The survey also delved into the motivations behind getting inked. Nearly half (47%) of participants with tattoos stated that they served as a form of personal expression and a way to express their beliefs and values. Interestingly, 32% indicated that at least one of their tattoos was motivated by a desire to enhance their appearance.


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