Study shows tattoos linked to cancer

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‘It traps the pigment’: Redditors stunned as study shows tattoos linked to deadly cancer and may lead to 20% greater risk

‘I’ve been debating getting a tattoo for years’


Grace Fowler


Internet users have warned to extend research into the long-term health effects of tattoos after new research found they may increase the risk of lymphoma cancer.

CNN reports that cancer experts found a “potential link between tattoos and a type of cancer called malignant lymphoma,” while conducting a study at Lund University

The researchers found through their study that the risk of malignant lymphoma was “21% higher among those who had at least one tattoo.” The site added that “to the researchers’ surprise, they found no evidence to suggest that the risk increased as the person’s skin was covered in more tattoos.”

The study was not set up to determine what the link between cancer and tattoos may be, and internet users are curious to find the reasoning. 

Why are tattoos are linked to cancer?

The Daily Mail notes that the ink itself has carcinogens.

CNN states that previous studies have shown that “the ink can sometimes travel through the body, and tiny particles can get stuck in the lymph nodes, which could lead to health problems.”

On the Reddit thread r/Health, a user posted the Newsweek article “Scientists warn tattoos may increase cancer risk.” A user under the thread posed a question asking, “does removal reduce or increase risk?”

Another user responded, “Sounds like it increased risk.” To explain, a user says that by removing the tattoo, “it breaks down the ink so it can be removed from the location.” They would assume that the ink “goes from being in one place to entering the bloodstream or lymphatic system.” states that, “tattoo ink is injected into the dermis … and stays in the skin for a lifetime. Over time, macrophages take up pigment and may transport it into the lymphatic system and lymph nodes.”

A user adds, “The immune system is constantly trying to attack and clear a tattoo. The macrophages can’t do it effectively so it traps the pigment where it is which is why there is minimal fading,” therefore, “it’s this immune system activation that is the likely (although not yet determined) cause of this potential increase in lymphoma.”

“The pigments that do escape out: they have found them in lymph nodes,” the user continues.

News Medical confirms that when getting a tattoo,the ink pigment is “regarded as a foreign body, which elicits an immune response in an attempt to clear it.”

“I’ve been debating getting a tattoo for years,” a reddit user admitted, “seems like you’ve just prolonged it for another few years.”

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*First Published:

The Daily Dot