Tattoos can be beautiful, funny, sentimental and the ink can be dangerous to your health. I have several inked patients whose tattoos have become part of their personal legend. Dedicated to a loved one that passed or a symbol of overcoming an addiction or visualizing their daily mantra; tattoos are important iconic permanent messages.
Over 50 million Americans have tats and the fastest growing group is over 50.
The health concern is skin cancer. German dermatologists studied a 48 year old man diagnosed with skin cancer 4 months after he got colored pigments injected into his left leg on the exact spot where red ink was used.
Do tattoo inks cause skin cancer?
Are all inks the same? There are no international standards for tattoo ink mixtures. Even though the shop may be clean and the artist talented you might be injected with a carcinogen that circulates in your blood and ends up in tissue storage.
Does the FDA regulate the pigments used in inks? You'd be surprised to find out that they don't because they are too busy with other health priorities and a lack of evidence to link pigments to certain conditions. Like cosmetics, The FDA only investigates a problem when it receives complaints about a product.
No one is looking out for you.
The FDA will only step in as they did when there was an outbreak of tattoo-related skin infections with contaminated ink. One at home-tattoo kit from White and Blue Lion was pulled off the market this past summer.
What is the chemical composition of the inks?
Tattoo inks are industrial products that can cause skin irritation and reactions that can mimic skin cancer. Some of the colors are the same pigments used to paint cars. Beautiful colored ink contains nickel, cadmium, arsenic and lead.
Think before you ink. Is this something you want to look at for the rest of your life? If there is a small chance that a tattoo would affect your fertility would you still do it? Is the price of a tattoo worth any cost to your long-term health?
Before your angel gets her angel think before you ink.