Tattoos might make a body beautiful, but they come with health risks we didn’t think of before. The ink they contain is full of toxic nanoparticles which, once they get in our skin, they travel through our body, reaching the lymph nodes. There, they might build up deposits, and lead to lifelong afflictions.
Lymph nodes filter toxins
Lymph nodes are present in the lymphatic system, which cleans the body from toxins, and controls the transport of white blood cells. These nodes are the elements which filter toxins, and prevent them from entering the bloodstream. Therefore, too many such nanoparticles can put plenty of stress on the nodes.
A team of researchers from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility used an X-ray scan to detect these nanoparticles in tattoo ink, and then spy upon their route in the body. This is how they observed they accumulate in lymph nodes.
Before starting getting tattooed, people are usually careful the entire process is safe, and that the artist uses sterile needles. Unfortunately, nobody is interested in checking the chemicals in the colors. As any other foreign object entering the body, the immune system is also trying to purify the tattoo area. While doing this, it removes ink nanoparticles, but they end up in the lymph nodes.
Many nanoparticles in tattoo ink are toxic, and might travel further than the nodes
The situation might be more complicated than expected. Hiram Castillo, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, explained why.
“What we didn’t know is that they do it in a nano form, which implies that they may not have the same behaviour as the particles at a micro level.”
Most tattoos contain carbon black as one of their main ingredients. The second popular chemical is titanium dioxide, which is white, and is used for shades. Those tattoos which contain a lot of white or a lot of titanium dioxide heal more slowly, since this chemical is a great irritant.
Tattoo ink contains many other chemicals. Scientists believe their particles travel even further in the body, and might reach organs. Now, the next step in their research would be to see the next part of their route.
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