If you look at the lymph nodes of a heavily tattooed person, you will notice something very strange: a microscopic spraying with metal.
It has been known for some time that tattoos can cause metal nanoparticles to enter the body, where they are pumped until they are intercepted by the immune system in the body's lymph nodes, including the armpit, groin and neck. It was previously assumed that the impurity originated from the inks. However, a recent study has shown that this is not the case] Lymph nodes of tattooed individuals actually arise in the needle of the tattoo gun, as reported in the Journal of Particle and Fiber Toxicology .
"Tattoos have more to offer than the eye. It is not just about the cleanliness of the salon, the sterilization of the equipment or the pigments. Now we realize that needle wear also has an impact on your body, " explained Hiram Castillo, one of the authors of the study.
The team, led by researchers from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Germany, began their investigation into the tissue of deceased tattooed and non-tattooed individuals. In the lymph node tissues of the stained cohort, they found iron, chromium and nickel particles ranging in size from 50 nanometers to 2 micrometers. This may sound insignificant, but nanoparticles are potentially more dangerous than larger particles because they have a higher surface to volume ratio, resulting in a higher release of toxic elements.
To their surprise, these metals were not found so widely found in tattoo inks, so they started looking elsewhere for the source.
"We tested about 50 samples of ink without finding such metal particles, and made sure that we did not contaminate the samples during sample preparation. Then we thought about testing the needle, and that was our "eureka" moment, "added Ines Schreiver, Corresponding Author and Scientist at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. A white pigment called titanium dioxide, attached to the Can wear out the needle. However, black ink does not contain this pigment and the needle wears less.
This discovery may explain why tattoos can occasionally cause allergic reactions in some people. As for the more general health effects of loading a lymph node with nanoparticles, this is unclear for the time being. There is currently little evidence that tattoos are associated with more general health issues. However, the researchers hope to explore this possibility a little further before coming to a conclusion.
"Unfortunately, we can say that today" The exact impact on human health and the possible development of allergies due to the abrasion of the tattoo needles can not be determined, "explained Schreiver. "These are long-term effects that can only be assessed in long-term epidemiological studies that monitor the health of." Thousands of people for decades. "