Tattoos Could Trigger Rare Form Of Cancer, New Study Finds

Having a tattoo could increase your risk of developing a rare type of cancer by 21%, a new study has found.


According to Researchers in Sweden, they found a potential link between tattoos and cancer in the lymphatic system, known as lymphoma.

Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the immune system.


Researchers from Lynd University investigated the relationship between tattoos and long-term health effects.

Dr Christel Nielsen, who led the study, said:

‘It is important to remember that lymphoma is a rare disease and that our results apply at the group level.

‘The results now need to be verified and investigated further in other studies, and such research is ongoing.’


The researchers examined 11,905 patients, and 2,938 of them, aged 20 to 60 years old, had lymphoma.


Of those participants, 54% completed the tattoo questionnaire, while 47% of the control group, who did not have cancer, did so.

21% of the lymphoma patients (289 people) had tattoos, compared to 18% of the control group (735 people) who had not been diagnosed with lymphoma.

After taking into account other characteristics such as smoking and age, the researchers discovered that those who were tattooed had a 21% increased risk of having lymphoma.

The researchers also discovered that the size of the tattoo made no difference, so having a full-body tattoo did not increase the risk any more than a smaller tattoo.

The three most prevalent cancer subtypes were diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (28%), Hodgkin lymphoma (21%), and follicular lymphoma (18%). The average age of individuals diagnosed was between 51 and 57 years. The average age of patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma was 36.

However, the researchers are unsure why this is the case. Dr Nielsen said: ‘

‘One can only speculate that a tattoo, regardless of size, triggers a low-grade inflammation in the body, which in turn can trigger cancer. The picture is thus more complex than we initially thought.’

‘We already know that when the tattoo ink is injected into the skin, the body interprets this as something foreign that should not be there and the immune system is activated. A large part of the ink is transported away from the skin, to the lymph nodes where it is deposited.’

The researchers said that further investigation is needed to look into any other association between tattoos and other types of cancer, and what the underlying cause could be.

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