Woman talking(l+r), Gloved hand tattooing arm covered in tattoos(c)

Stop war in Ukraine/Shutterstock @neenziemd/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘This is the info we didn’t want to know’: Doctor issues warning on tattoos for their cancer risk

‘Me with my full sleeve.’


Jack Alban


A doctor who posts on TikTok under the name Neenz (@neenziemd) cited a recent Swedish study that explores a possible correlation between getting tattooed and increased cancer risks.

While she specified that the study is by no means a definitive statement that folks who are injecting ink into their skin are going to get lymphoma, it seemed that many people who responded to her video took Neenz’s commentary that way. Another doctor even chimed in, stating that it would be unfair to cite the study as an indicator that tattoos may cause blood cancer.

Neenz states in her video, “Things they don’t tell you, part 189. A new study was done revealing tattoos have an increased risk of blood cancers. Tattoo ink has known carcinogens that cause cancer. … It’s absorbed through the body systemically because tattoos are on the skin and … they travel to lymph nodes in the body and kinda procreate, increase their amount of cells while they are in the lymph nodes.”

“This was found from an observational study of a Swedish cohort, done in Lund University,” she continues. “The study was done and found about 21 percent increase in patients that had tattoos leading to lymphoma about two years after obtaining the tattoos.”

What does this mean?

“This is essentially not a correlational study to kinda say if somebody has a tattoo, they are more at risk,” she says, “but this is a study to kinda say that is it possible it just needs to be studied more.”

The study she’s referring to is this piece published by Lund University titled “Possible association between tattoos and lymphoma revealed.” The included research “suggests that tattoos could be a risk factor for cancer in the lymphatic system, or lymphoma.”

One of the leaders of the study, Christel Nielsen, penned, “We have identified people diagnosed with lymphoma via population registers. These individuals were then matched with a control group of the same sex and age, but without lymphoma. The study participants answered a questionnaire about lifestyle factors to determine whether they were tattooed or not.”

The same study was referenced by Medical News Today, which highlighted the fluctuating nature of increased lymphoma risks, noting that it was highest two years post-tattoo, dropped between three to 10 years after someone was tattooed, then shot back up at the 11-year mark.

Dr. Wael Harb, a hematologist and oncologist, remarked that there could very well be other factors at play in the study, not just tattoos, that could account for the increased risk for lymphoma in the surveyed subjects.

“The study adjusted for several lifestyle factors, including smoking and socioeconomic status, in its analysis,” he told Medical News Today. “While tattoos themselves were found to be a risk factor for lymphoma, the lifestyle factors associated with individuals who get tattoos (e.g., smoking, substance use) could also contribute to the increased risk.”

@neenziemd Things they dont tell you pt 189 #bloodcancer #lymphoma #tattoos #tattoosartist #tattootiktok #tattooideas ♬ original sound – Neenz

Numerous people who responded to Neenz’s video didn’t seem too enthused to hear the news. One person wrote, “This is the info we didn’t want to know.”

However, another viewer expressed that they weren’t exactly going to run away from ink needles in fear, as they believe there’s a minimal risk in just being alive in general. “Unfortunately there is a risk of everything even wearing colored contacts can cause blindness,” they wrote.

This sentiment was echoed by another viewer, who mentioned, “Everything we encounter willingly or not either helps or hurts us.”

Another simply said, “I feel like getting another tattoo now.”

One viewer clapped back, however, stating that if getting tattoos did, in fact, increase one’s chance of getting lymphoma, then rates of the illness would be “skyrocketing” everywhere, which they don’t believe is the case. “So many people have tattoos now,” they stated. “You would think the rate of lymphoma would be skyrocketing, no? Maybe it is [and] I’m not aware of it.”

Someone else penned, “I had lymphoma before I got my tattoo,” suggesting that they, too, weren’t necessarily buying the study.

Another medical professional on the app, Doctor Lara Jones (@ladoctorajones), didn’t seem to think that the information in the study was necessarily indicating a positive correlation between tattoos and lymphoma. “Is it really fair to say ‘tattoos have an increased risk of blood cancers’ based on this study?” they wrote.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Neenz via TikTok comment for further information.

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