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Can Tattoos Cause Cancer?

The History of Tattoos

The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word “tatu” which means, “to mark something.” This form of body art has been apart of the world for centuries. What began, as just a symbol for tribes is now a permanent form of expression. The earliest tattoos were in Egypt on the great pyramids. Women also used tattoos to showcase their skills. It was a way for them to increase their chances of getting married. Tattoos were also used as a superstition precaution. Tattoos around the fingers and wrists were a symbol to ward off diseases. As the Egyptians expanded their empire so did the art of tattooing. Around 2,000 BC tattooing spread to China and eventually spread throughout the rest of the world.

How It Became Apart of the American Culture

The American tattoo style began in New York and thrived for a while, but tattoos started getting a bad reputation. Many people were getting blood poisoning, hepatitis, and other diseases. The popularity for tattoos returned in the 1960’s thanks to Lyle Tuttle. He began tattooing celebrities and gained media attention. Today tattoos are more popular than ever before, people of all forms of life seek tattoos. Despite the popularity and unique expression of tattoos they have been linked to many diseases including cancer.

How Tattoos Are Being Linked to Cancer

A 30-year-old Australian woman underwent surgery to remove a lymph node. Doctors suspected that lymphoma, which is a type of cancer. She had a small lump under her arm for about two weeks. The doctors examined the lump, by putting it under a microscope. They found black tattoo pigments from 15 years ago that was just starting to affect her immune system. The scan also showed other larger lymph nodes in her chest, some near her lungs. The woman’s lymph nodes started to swell because of her reaction to the old ink in the tattoo. The cause was not due to cancer cells, the doctors found black pigments in her immune system.

The woman’s 15-year-old tattoos were covering her back and shoulder. Once the immune cells found the tattoo pigments they ingested in and traveled from the skin to the lymph nodes over the years. The doctors are still wondering why it affected her immune system. The only symptoms the patient had her tattoos itching for a few days every month. The infection in her lymph nodes was not on her skin. Dr. Bryant says, “I think there’s absolutely no way to know how common it is. Most people who have tattoos have absolutely no problems.” Red pigments not black usually cause these types of reactions.

How to Get A Tattoo Safely

In the US at least 4 in 10 millennial have tattoos. If you are interested in getting a tattoo it’s very important to do research. Make sure the tattoo artist has a great reputation by asking clients. Make sure they use clean and disposable needles and new ink to prevent infections. Take precautions after getting a tattoo keep the area clean and moisturized. Another precaution is to not go swimming after getting a new tattoo. A man died after getting a new tattoo because he went swimming. The bacteria found in the water infected it. Tattoos are a great form of expression, but without proper care, can lead to infection and even death.

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