Can Tattoos Lead to Skin Cancer?

Tattoos have become mainstream. It’s no longer shocking to see people from all walks of life with tattoos. But what are the risks of getting a tattoo? Can tattoos lead to skin cancer?

What Is a Tattoo?

A tattoo is created by using microneedles to pierce the skin and inject ink droplets. The tattoo is permanent, though certain colors may fade with time. The procedure can take 30 minutes to several hours – sometimes several sessions – to complete. It can cause slight bleeding and can be painful. One of the biggest risks of getting a tattoo is an infection. Because the tattoo breaks the skin, it’s possible to have allergic reactions or inflammation. If the equipment used to give you the tattoo is not properly sterilized, you may be at risk for bloodborne diseases like Staph infections and hepatitis.

Do Tattoos Cause Cancer?

While there is no definitive connection between tattoos and cancer, one ink can be high-risk. Black ink contains a high level of benzopyrene, which is a known carcinogen. Black the most common ink color used in tattoos. A new trend, called blackout tattoos are of significant concern because they are intended to cover a large portion of the body. Not only does that put a lot more of the carcinogen into the person’s body, but by covering the skin in so much black ink, it prevents effective cancer screenings. When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent. For all types of skin cancer, early treatment is highly effective and saves lives, but when the skin pigment is inked, it’s impossible to screen for these cancers. In these ways, tattoos can lead to skin cancer, even though there is no evidence that they directly cause it.

At Skin Care Research, our professional team of skin care experts offers a wide range of FDA-regulated trials in both clinical and cosmetic dermatology. If you have more questions about tattoos or would like to discuss the possibility of participating in a future study, sign up today. With over 25 years of experience in the execution of dermatological clinical trials — under the guidance of double board-certified dermatologist and Skin Care Research founder, Dr. Marta I. Rendon — our team is highly trained and committed to ensuring that all clinical guidelines are met and that the rights of every patient are always protected. Call 561-948-3116 or fill out the form on this page to learn more about our clinical trial options.

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