New Study Links Tattoos To Cancer Risk Nationwide, From Harlem To Hollywood

May 30, 2024

Researchers published their findings in eClinicalMedicine report a link between tattoos and cancer of the lymph nodes. The scientists say the problem may lie in the ink.

“Tattoo ink often contains carcinogenic chemicals, e.g., primary aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals,” the authors wrote. “The tattooing process invokes an immunologic response that causes translocation of tattoo ink from the injection site.”

“… the deposition of tattoo pigment in lymph nodes has been confirmed …”

The researchers say the deposition of tattoo pigment in lymph nodes has been confirmed but the long-term health effects have not been unexplored. They used Swedish National Authority Registers with full population coverage to investigate the association between tattoo exposure and overall malignant lymphoma as well as lymphoma subtypes.


In the study, researchers performed a case-control study where they identified all incident cases of malignant lymphoma diagnosed between 2007 and 2017 in individuals between 20 and 60 years old. Three random age- and sex-matched controls per case were sampled from the Total Population Register using incidence density sampling. 

“… subjects who had tattoos had a 21% higher adjusted risk …”

In the study, subjects who had tattoos had a 21% higher adjusted risk of overall lymphoma than subjects who had not been tattooed. 


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“Our findings suggested that tattoo exposure was associated with an increased risk of malignant lymphoma. More epidemiologic research is urgently needed to establish causality,” the study concludes reports Consumer Affairs.

Photo credit: HWM.


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