New study points to a possible link between tattoos and lymphoma, but experts say more research is needed


A Swedish study has found a possible link between tattoos and sexual desire. a type of cancer called malignant lymphoma, but it Ultimately, more research is needed on this topic, and Cancer experts say the possible link has been exaggerated.

The researchers said, Lund UniversityHe said he wanted to do this study because little is known Despite the continued popularity of tattoos, there is a lack of awareness about their long-term health effects. Nearly one-third of people in the US alone will have at least one tattoo by 2023 Pew Research Center The survey found.

Study, published In the most recent edition of the journal EClinicalMedicine, the study involved nearly 12,000 people in Sweden. From population registers, the researchers identified all people diagnosed with malignant lymphoma between 2007 and 2017 – about 3,000 people – and matched them to a group of similarly aged and gender-mixed people who did not have cancer.

Malignant lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, which is the part of the body that helps fight germs and diseases. Known risk factors Add to this Weak immune system due to illness or immune disorders such as AIDS, infections such as Epstein Barr, Age and family history of the disease. Exposure to chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides may also increase the risk of lymphoma, as can exposure to secondhand smoke.

In 2021, the study authors sent questionnaires to the people they identified, asking them about certain lifestyle factors that might increase the risk of such cancers and whether they had any tattoos on their bodies.

The researchers also took into account things that affect cancer risk, such as smoking and age, but found that people who had at least one tattoo on their bodies had a 21% higher risk of malignant lymphoma. This finding is only an association, not a direct link, but The study authors stressed that more research will be needed to clarify these findings.

The researchers were surprised to find that they found no evidence that the more tattoos a person had on their skin increased the risk.

“We don’t yet know why this happens. One can only speculate that tattoos, regardless of size, cause mild inflammation in the body, which could in turn lead to cancer,” said co-author Christel Nielsen, an associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Lund University, one of News release. “The picture is much more complex than we initially thought.”

The study wasn’t designed to determine what link, if any, there is between cancer and tattoos, but experts are skeptical.

Dr. Timothy Rebeck, an epidemiologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who was not involved with the study, said the findings are “really exaggerated.”

“If I were writing that paper, if I were the editor, I would say the conclusion is that there is no evidence of a strong relationship,” he said.

He said the figures are solid, but the main thing is that risk Because lymphoma is not found in tattoos.

“I would say the message here should be, we haven’t really learned much about whether tattoos are linked to cancer, and if I had to draw a conclusion, I would say the data suggests there is no link,” Rebbeck said, noting that a small study also looked at whether tattoos are linked to cancer. 2023 study Studies on the association between tattooing and lymphoma or hematologic cancers also found no increased risk.

He said the 21% estimate of excess risk comes from the new study’s models, but it is not statistically significant.

Dr. Katherine Diefenbach, director of the Clinical Lymphoma Program at NYU Langone Health Perlmutter Cancer Center, said, A few things about the studies don’t seem to match.

“I don’t understand why there is no relationship with tattoo size. I really don’t understand why if there is an immune or toxic response, a larger tattoo would have no effect on the relationship,” he said. “This study leaves me with a lot of questions.”

Diefenbach said he’s never been asked about the link between tattoos and cancer, but he has seen news reports about new research.

“I think people are very nervous about the fact that this is a preliminary study that has to be validated,” he said.

The study authors speculate that if tattoos do increase the risk of malignant lymphoma, one reason may be a problem with the ink. Tattoo inks often contain chemicals that can are considered carcinogenicWhich includes metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Earlier studies showed that the ink can sometimes travel through the body, and small particles get stuck Lymph nodes can become swollen, which can lead to health problems.

Another study It was found that tattoo ink may slightly change the parts of blood cells that communicate with others, but it’s unclear whether this has any impact on health.

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Even the infection are rare after getting a tattoo, studies show. In 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration released Draft guidance To help tattoo ink manufacturers and distributors recognize when ink might be contaminated, the agency received reports of contaminated inks and some companies recalled those inks. FDA It will register and investigate complaints against the industry, but it does not regulate the tattooing process itself or the inks used in it, as it is considered a cosmetic procedure.

Nielsen said his group will investigate whether tattoos are linked to other types of cancer or inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, lupus, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Rebeck says this type of research can be difficult for the general public to understand. cancerfactfinder.orgThe aim is to help people understand what causes cancer and what doesn’t. Some people have asked about tattoos, but research hasn’t really shown a connection, he says.

“I would say we really don’t know a lot, but there’s no solid evidence that getting a tattoo causes cancer,” Rebeck said.


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