Although this is the first study to find a link, there are many other evidence that suggests it might not be cause for concern. A recent study out of Britain has found that most people don’t get tattoos – there’s really no need in some areas. In fact, the study also found that some people are more likely to get cancer than others. The researchers concluded that, “It should be possible to identify tattooed people at risk of developing cancer if relevant risk factors were identified and tested in a prospective clinical trial” (1). In the end, this study was not able to determine how many people were tattooed but the majority of the people included weren’t, so this seems to indicate that not everyone who gets tattoos might be a cancer risk.
What about skin cancer?
In addition to skin cancer, people who have tattoos also risk the development of other diseases and conditions in their body. In this case, the risk is usually due to the tattoo itself and not in any other part of the body. According to the research of the American Cancer Society, “Most tattooers and stylists, even if they don’t have permanent scarring, may be at risk for developing skin cancers due to poor or inadequate hygiene practices or to sun exposure. These risks include sun-related cancers of the skin and eye, oral cavity, and anus. Sunlight exposure is an important risk factor, and it appears that tattoos can increase the risk for both the development of skin cancers and the development of some other skin diseases, such as cancer of different types of cancer” (2). In the same report, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people should avoid sun exposure, especially if they have tattoos (2). So, people who are considering getting tattoos should also try to limit their sun exposure.
What about those people who already have tattoos? Doesn’t that increase the risk of developing skin cancer?
The risks listed in the American Academy of Dermatology report are for people with tattoos that were not removed within the lifetime. Even though permanent scarring might not be shown in the lab, it’s worth considering in terms of what you can do to minimise scarring after your tattoo removal. For example, if you’ve got tattoos that are permanent and it’s the first time in your life you’ve ever had to remove them, it can be very embarrassing and painful. You can always get a temporary one, but you might have some residual scarring. If this happens several times in your life, it
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