In today's day and age, it's rare to meet someone who doesn't have a tattoo. In the past tattoos were seen as taboo, making it difficult for people to get a decent job. That mindset has radically shifted in recent years, and now it's not only rebellious youngsters that are jumping on the tattoo bandwagon. Tattoos are now seen as a form of self-expression and identification; however researchers are beginning to believe that the longer that self-expression stays on your skin, the more damage that it does to your body.
The Pew Research Center states that four-in-ten millennials have tattoos, with half of that number having more than one. With the rise in tattoo popularity, it raises the question: do we know enough about the long-term effects of injecting ink into the body?
Old Tattoos Can Cause Problems Mistaken for Cancer
In Australia, a 30-year old woman (whose name has not been released) went to doctor with small lumps under her arms that had been there for two weeks. A body scan showed that there were similar enlarged lymph nodes in her chest.
"Ninety-nine times out of 100, (this) will be lymphoma," said her doctor, Dr. Christian Bryant, a hematologist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
An otherwise healthy woman, she was experiencing no other symptoms of lymphoma. She did, however, have a large, 15-year old black ink tattoo covering her back, and a more recent tattoo on her left shoulder.
In this woman's case, her inflamed lymph nodes were not caused by cancer, but from a reaction to the old ink in her body. Once her immune cells found the tattoo pigment - a foreign substance - they ingested it and travelled from the skin to the lymph nodes over a period of years.
"The pigment is too large for these cells to eat and digest," Stebbins said. "That's why they're still there many years later."
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