The truth about what these tattoos do to the body is that we don’t really have enough definitive medical evidence to say at this time. In fact, scientists have yet to find a common, cancer-causing substance on any tattoos, but the science we do have shows little correlation between tattoos and cancer. There are some studies of the health impacts of tattoos on a particular population, but these studies have not reached scientific proof. For instance, the health consequences of skin pigmentation in people who wear red or yellow tattoos is not well understood, so it is difficult to draw any conclusions.
On the other hand, what we can say is that tattoos are a natural way to express oneself, and that some people do develop cancer from a tattoo or some specific tattoo-related health problems. For instance, someone who experiences a reaction to tattoos may be at risk for skin cancer.
How did doctors choose which patients to study?
We surveyed approximately 800 people across the United States by sending the survey directly to them, providing them with a phone number that they could call if they had a question. We used several measures of health as a way to determine who did get these tattoos. We asked what specific health problems had resulted in the tattoos, and also asked what factors contributed to these tattoos. For instance, tattoos are not just a fashion statement, but can also be a sign of disease, which can have a high mortality rate.
To gain a broader understanding of these tattoos on health issues, we contacted the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery’s board of directors, which includes board members from dermatologists and other surgeons, as well as dermatologists and other surgeons from the Association of International Dermatologists and the American Academy of Dermatology. (A.I.D.S. and A.A.D. is affiliated with the American Academy of Dermatological Surgery.) Each of these members, who are experts on skin cancer, evaluated the data submitted to them using standard questions that were designed to allow them to distinguish tattooers from non-tattooers, and to establish whether tattoos cause a particular health problem. We then assessed the likelihood of a possible cancer developing from these tattoos, based on the answers.
Was the study funded by your company, Cintas?
Yes, all of the data was taken from the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery’s own website (http://www.asdf.org). The organization’s main goal is to improve quality of care for skin
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