European Union’s watchdog claims that ingredients used in making tattoos’ ink can cause cancer. A vote for restriction on about 4,000 chemicals is required of the member states. Given the statistics, 12% of Europeans have tattoos, mostly appearing among ages from 18 to 35. Tattoos constitute permanent ingredients that can cause any harmful effect in a lifespan.
The major concern is the lack of jurisdiction over what actually goes into the tattoos, the ingredients bought from various chains of suppliers to distributors and then to parlors. No standardized requirement is issued upon them across the EU. According to Tony Raita, from Finnish Tattooist Association, the cheap ink ingredients being imported from China can be a potential problem, users mostly do not know what goes into their inks and that can be really dangerous.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has taken hold on the lack of regulation regarding the ink chemicals in tattoos and announced in October that restriction will be issued on dangerous chemicals, both in tattoos and permanent makeup.
ECHA report does not give evidence of any direct link between tattoo ink and cancer, apart from some examples of carcinogenic chemicals used in the ink. A study published in Scientific Reports in 2017 proved the presence of tattoo ink’s pigment particles in the lymph nodes of the patients, which are crucial filtering points for the body’s immune system. The long-term effect of these pigments on cancer is not yet tracked. According to Dr. Hiram Castillo-Michel, the author of the study, they do not make an appearance until years or decades and linking them to tattoos is difficult; it would require tracking large cohorts for decades for deriving epidemiological data that can guide us regarding the link between cancer and tattoo ingredients.
So far, skin cancer has been also less associated with tattoos. Only 50 examples of such skin cancers on tattoos have been found out, that too, after extensive research through medical literature, according to the authors of a 2012 review in the Lancet Oncology medical journal. The association thus so far is coincidental.
Hence, people looking to get tattoos or have tattoos should inquire more about the ink ingredients in the tattoos and contact their doctors regarding any side effects or infections. To avoid cancer risk, they should avoid getting one.