Tattoos and immune health: hidden risks

Recent news has revealed a possible hidden risk associated with tattoos: a study published in June 2024 suggests that tattoo inks may increase the risk of lymphoma.

Tattoos not only leave a mark on the skin, but also on our immune system. Recent studies show that tattoo inks can trigger chronic inflammation and increase the risk of lymphoma. Toxic components such as PAHs and heavy metals are responsible for these adverse effects. It is vital to understand these risks and promote stricter regulation to protect our health.



Composition of inks and toxicological effects

A study published in toxicology and industrial health by Negi et al. (2022) examined the ingredients of tattoo inks, highlighting the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), primary aromatic amines (PAAs) and heavy metals. These compounds can trigger inflammatory and carcinogenic responses, potentially affecting human health. PAHs such as Benzo(a)pyrene and heavy metals, including cadmium and lead, are of particular concern due to their carcinogenic nature.


Immune response

Tattoo needles pierce the epidermis, depositing ink in the dermis, which is rich in blood vessels and immune cells such as macrophages and T-lymphocytes. macrophages phagocytose the ink particles, keeping them in their vacuoles. This “capture-release-recapture” process ensures the permanence of the tattoo. However, chronic inflammation can occur around these particles.

Lymphoma risk

A study in eClinicalMedicine by Nielsen et al. (June 2024) found that people with tattoos have a 21% higher risk of developing lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects lymphocytes. Low grade inflammation and ink accumulation in the lymph nodes may contribute to this risk. Study highlights need for greater regulation of tattoo ink components and a better understanding of their long-term effects.




Studies suggest that tattoo inks may have significant effects on the immune system, especially through chronic inflammation and increased risk of lymphoma. The evidence highlights the importance of regulation and control of tattoo ink ingredients to protect public health.


In this article I intend to highlight the importance of being informed about the possible risks of tattoos and the need for further research to better understand their long-term effects on our health.