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Long Term Health Effects Associated With Tattoos And Interesting Tattoo Stats

Jen Slack's picture
dangerous tattoos

I am in my early 50s', a Gen-Exer, and do not have a tattoo. Although I have considered it, after researching the long term health effects associated with tattoos, it's unlikely I will ever get one. Besides that, I don't like the idea of pain.


I had, though, given the idea of having a tattoo some thought, mostly when I was 18. It was the 1980's and there were very few women with tattoos at the time. Thinking I would be original, and also a bit rebellious, I decided I wanted a tattoo - a red rose on my upper arm or back.

Today, when I see a woman with a red rose tattoo on her upper arm or back, I am sure she close to my age, and that she got her tattoo done in the 1980's. That is precisely why I remain thankful that I never actually went through with the idea.

Tattoo Trends Come and Go

In the last few decades, I have seen tattoo styles come and go - the upper arm bands, in barbed wire or vines, are a great example. I would never advise anyone to get a tattoo that seems trendy.

But enough about styles and fads, what about health risks associated with tattoos.

Health Risks With Tattoos From Unhygienic Practices

Problems with tattoos arise often due to an unhygienic practices, including mixing the ink pigments with unsanitised water. Sometimes there are from allergies to the ink, and sometimes the ink itself is contaminated.

A German study reported that a whopping 67 percent of tattooed people reported complications.

Not Regulated In The USA

In the USA, the FDA doesn't regulate tattooing or the inks. None of the pigments have, or even need FDA approval. Because tattooing is considered 'cosmetic' the standards aren't really any higher than products used topically, although the ink itself certainly goes beneath the skin.

While the FDA does not regulate tattooing, they certainly have warnings about the process including recently about moldy ink, as well as other warnings about potential dangers of tattoos.

Ink Contaminated with Bacteria and Cancer Causing Carcinogens

A case study in Demark showed that 10 percent of inks, that were not even opened were already contaminated with bacteria.

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What's even worse, in another study in Demark, showed that some tattoo inks tested contained carcinogens.

In Australia, it was found that out of 49 Inks tested, only 4 complied with European standards, and again, found carcinogens.

So even if your tattoo artist practises safe procedures and has a spotless shop, the ink they buy could be contaminated. How will you know if your tattoo artist is using ink that has contains no mold or bacteria? That is a good question.

Blood Born Diseases

Hopefully your tattoo artist has integrity, along with proper training and knows how to effectively sanitize tools and equipment. New needles must be used for each new patient to reduce the risk of harm from tattooing. Otherwise, the risk for blood born diseases like HIV, tetanus, hepatitis B and C could result.

Sweating Through Your Tattoo

It's quite possible that tattoos can affect the way your skin sweats. In this study, tattooed skin excreted 50 percent less sweat and the sodium content found in the sweat was more concentrated. In non tattooed skin, electrolites and sodium are reabsorbed back into the skin after it's been sweated out. But that is not the case in tattooed skin.

It's uncertain, at this time how this affects the skin but researchers believe it could be more problematic for those with a lot of tattoos who are doing hard work. Study co-author Maurie Luetkemeier, professor of physiology at Michigan's Alma College offered an example. "You look at someone in the military, where tattoos are very prevalent, and if they’re exposed to high heat and a heavy workload, there could be thermoregulatory problems," Luetkemeier said.

Statistics On Tattoos from Harris Polls

Percentage of Those With Tattoos by Generation

  • Millennials (47%)
  • Gen Xers (36%)
  • Baby Boomers (13%)
  • Matures (10%).

Percentage of Those With Tattoos by Political Affiliation.

  • Republicans (27%)
  • Democrats (29%)
  • Independents (28%)

Most opting for tattoo removal are middle aged.

One in four experience tattoo regret. The reasons?

  1. Too Young When It Was Done
  2. Personality changes - doesn't fit current lifestyle
  3. Someone's name that I'm no longer with
  4. Poorly done - doesn't look professional
  5. It is not meaningful

I wonder how many red roses have been removed from the upper arms and backs of Women Gen-Exers?

How do you feel about your tattoos? Are you considering getting one? Another tattoo? Are you concerned about long term health effects associated with tattoos?



If at all possible remove your tattoos and live a better life.