The ink used for tattoos can affect the human body and even produce cancer


It’s a toxic addition to the human body. “No one checks the chemical composition of the colors, but our study shows that maybe they should”, explains Hiram Castillo, one of the authors of the study. It is however another problem: even though toxicological data might be available for some ink ingredients individually, information on in vivo interactions of the ink’s components and their fate within the body is rare.

Researchers in laboratory

Tattoo inks contain organic pigments but nickel, chromium, manganese or cobalt can be also present. The second most common ingredient used in tattoo inks is titanium dioxide (TiO2), a white pigment usually applied to create certain shades when mixed with colorants. Tattoo particles from skin can move to lymph nodes. Many times the lymph nodes become tinted with the color of the tattoo. X-ray fluorescence measurements on ID21 allowed the team to locate titanium dioxide at the micro and nano range in the skin and the lymphatic environment. Not at least because the toxins stay in body life time this can be  linked later to various forms of cancer. Titanium dioxide was certainly linked to cancer in other studies.


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