The Dangers of Tattoos: Cancer Risks & Opinionated Views Inside

Jacob Lund /
Jacob Lund /

Study: Tattoos Linked to Increased Risk of Skin Cancer and Lymphoma

Summer is almost here, and you can tell from the visibility of so many tattoos in public. Getting “inked” is a way to express who you truly are as an individual. For example, when most well-adjusted people see a person with tattoos, they see someone who has poor judgment skills, low self-esteem, and a bad relationship with their father. But now, there’s one additional message that tattoos send to others. People with tattoos have a dramatically increased rate of developing horrible skin cancer!

Researchers at the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Lund University of Sweden have compiled research on 11,905 people with tattoos and compared them to a similar cohort of non-inked people. The results were consistent and seemed conclusive.

Within the first two years of getting a new tattoo, the recipient is 81 percent more likely to develop skin cancer and lymphoma than a person who makes better life choices. The risk goes away for years three through ten after getting a tattoo. However, the risk returns starting in year eleven, when the tattoo recipient has a 19 percent increased chance of developing cancer.

About 30 percent of the people who got cancer from their tattoos developed large B-cell lymphoma, which kills approximately half of all patients.

One interesting thing to note is that the size of the tattoos made no difference. Whether a person gets a little butterfly tattoo on their ankle or covers their body with ink like a confused carnival employee with a bad meth habit, the risks remain the same.

The doctors suggest that anyone who gets a tattoo should watch for early signs of incipient lymphoma. These include night sweats, recurring viral illnesses, persistent skin rashes, and fevers. An even better option might be to never get that tattoo in the first place.