September 4, 2012

Tattoo ink linked to skin infections and cancer

Body art is in. Although I don't have any tattoos, I have contemplated a few.

According to the Natural Health Blog, there are ingredients in tattoo ink that are causing an increase in serious skin infections:

An outbreak of a nasty, hard-to-treat skin disease attributed to tattoo ink ingredients prompted both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue warnings about the associated health risks of tattoos.1 According to a CDC report released earlier this week, these skin infections are caused by a type of bacteria known as "nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)." The report says that the infections typically "require a minimum of 4 months of treatment with a combination of two or more antibiotics."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The more worrisome concern is that NTM infection can lead to other conditions, including lung disease, co-infection with staph and eye problems, and infections of other organs.

Furthermore, many inks contain heavy metals:
First of all, the National Center for Toxicological Research has found carcinogenic substances among tattoo ink ingredients.2 The pigments often contain heavy metals like lead, titanium, and cadmium, as well as phthalates and hydrocarbons that are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.3 According to an FDA fact sheet, some inks contain dyes "suitable for printers' ink or automobile paint." The FDA currently is conducting investigations to determine the long-term effects when the ink breaks down in the body or gets exposed to light, but as of now, nobody really knows the long-term effects.

Experts do warn, though, that black ink in particular may be trouble from the carcinogenic point-of- view. These inks contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which the EPA says are "among the most potent and well-documented skin carcinogens." Anecdotal evidence points to skin melanomas occurring with some frequency at tattoo sites, but again, study evidence is lacking.

Perhaps one should think twice before getting more ink?

Image: License

Attribution Some rights reserved by JD | Photography

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at September 4, 2012 12:02 AM

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