The tattoo trend started 20 years ago in America and Europe, and it has become a worldwide obsession. Thankfully, I’ve never gotten a tattoo and after reading this study I am happy I never did. If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, you may not even be aware that there are many health dangers to receiving a tattoo.
The Toxic Truth About Tattoos
Tattoo inks contain a myriad of heavy metals. Red tattoo inks often contain mercury, and tattoos pierce the skin leaving the ink permanently embedded. FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for injection into the skin. Tattoo parlors are regulated by the state and city, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require manufacturers to release their ink’s ingredients; doing so could supposedly give away trade secrets. The lack of regulation is slightly unnerving considering that 36 percent of people ages 18-25 have tattoos, as do 40 percent of those 26-40 years old. That means approximately 45 million Americans have been inked, and one-third of those did so because it makes them feel “sexy.”
Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colors suitable for printer ink or automobile paint. The FDA’s website warns about tattoo ink possibly causing infections, allergic reactions, keloids (formation of a scar), granulomas (inflammation) and potential complications while receiving MRIs.
The carrier solution used in tattoo inks contains harmful substances such as denatured alcohols, methanol, antifreeze, detergents, formaldehyde and toxic aldehydes.
What’s more, the review found eight cases of malignant melanoma on the site of the tattoo. “Tattoo inks may contain carcinogens, but it’s unclear whether the reported cases of skin cancer are associated with tattoos or occurred coincidentally,” says Dr. Bäumler, whose study noted that this number is few in comparison to the many people who have tattoos. (In fact, 24% of the population is inked.)
An alarming research study recently published by Dr. Bob Haley and Dr. Paul Fischer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas uncovered that the “innocent” commercial tattoo may be the number one distributor of hepatitis C. The study was published in the journal Medicine (Haley RW, Fischer RP, Commercial tattooing as a potentially source of hepatitis C infection, Medicine, March 2000;80:134-151). Dr. Haley, a preventative medicine specialist and a former Center for Disease Control (CDC) infection control official, is exceptionally knowledgeable to prepare the study. Dr. Haley concludes, “We found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. This means it may have been the largest single contributor to the nationwide epidemic of this form of hepatitis.”
Over the past year, my friend Dave at PaleoHacks has been working on a secret cookbook with world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu chef Peter Servold.