Can tattoos give you cancer?

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The EU’s chemicals watchdog has concluded that substances found in tattooing inks pose a cancer risk and member states will have to vote on restrictions for 4,000 chemicals currently in use.

Why is the risk being highlighted now?

The review has been sparked in part by the growing popularity of tattoos, currently 12 per cent of Europeans have one, but this rises to one in four among people aged 18 to 35.  Because the dyes used remain in your body permanently there is a lifetime for any harmful chemicals that may be used to have an effect.

The EU was also concerned about the lack of oversight of what goes into tattoos. The inks are a blend of several ingredients, and their chemical components are often bought from one supplier to be mixed and sold to distributors and then on to tattoo parlours. Though ingredients are supposed to be thoroughly labelled, especially if they’re hazardous, there are no standardised requirements across the EU.

Tony Raita, chair of the Finnish Tattooist Association said cheap coloured inks from China are a growing problem. “They import a lot of colours to the European Union and people use them and they don’t know what is in the colours, that’s pretty dangerous,” he said.

 

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