Tattoos leak metals into your lymph nodes, says study

Ink is not the only thing left behind when you get a tattoo.


Now a new study has shown that small metal particles from the tattooing needle penetrate your skin and travel to the lymph nodes.

Researchers at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, discovered that nickel and chromium, which are allergens, are shed from a tattoo needle when a certain pigment is used.

The white pigment is called titanium dioxide and it is often mixed in bright colors such as blue, green and red.

The team believes that these heavy metals may explain why some people have bad reactions to tattoos and plan to investigate further health effects of the potentially toxic metals that are deposited in tattoos.

A new study by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility has shown that when a certain pigment is used, tattoo needles can erode, causing metal particles to enter the body (file image)

A new study by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility has shown that when a certain pigment is used, tattoo needles can erode, causing metal particles to enter the body (file image)


Tattoos have become increasingly popular in the US, especially among teenagers and young adults.

A Pew Research Center poll discovered that 40 percent of people between 18 and 29 have at least one.

Half of that group said they had between two and five tattoos, and 18 percent had six or more.

Side effects after getting tattoos are common, with people reporting redness, swelling, or skin rashes around the tattoo site.

A 2015 study conducted by New York University surveyed 300 New Yorkers with tattoos and more than 10 percent reported having a negative response.

Until recently, most experts blamed the ink.

But the ESRF team discovered in previous research that metal nanoparticles were in the lymph nodes of tattooed people and were trying to find a connection.


& # 39; We followed our earlier study by trying to find the connection between iron, chromium and nickel and the color of the inks, & # 39; said corresponding author Ines Schreiver, a scientist at the ESRF.

& # 39; After studying different samples of human tissue and finding metal components, we realized that there had to be something else … Then we thought about testing the needle and that was our "eureka" moment & # 39 ;.

For the study, published in the magazine Particle and Fiber Toxicology, the team studied ink samples under an intense X-ray.

They discovered that when tattoo ink contains titanium dioxide – a white pigment that is often mixed in bright colors, including blue, green and red – the needle can erode.

However, this does not happen when artists use black ink, which is softer.


& # 39; Tattoos are more than you see & # 39 ;, said author Hiram Castillo, a scientist at the ESRF.

& # 39; It's not just about the cleanliness of the milking parlor, the sterilization of the equipment or even the pigments. Now we see that the needle wear also has an impact on your body. & # 39;

The metal particles in the lymph nodes range from 50 nanometers in length – as small as a DNA molecule – to two micrometers in length – about the size of a bacterial cell.

Nanoparticles are considered more dangerous than larger particles because they have an area by volume, which can cause a potentially higher release of toxic chemicals.

"Unfortunately, today we cannot determine the exact impact on human health and possible allergy development due to wear of the tattoo needle," said Schreiver.


& # 39; These are long-term effects that can only be assessed in long-term epidemiological studies that monitor the health of thousands of people for decades. & # 39;

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