Study reveals how tattoos lead to organ damage amid rise in inked Americans

By
Web Desk
This image shows a tattoo artists hands tattooing an individuals skin. — Pexel
This image shows a tattoo artist's hands tattooing an individual's skin. — Pexel

The strong influence of music artistes like Justin Bieber and Machine Gun Kelly have been listed among the reasons why a third of Americans have tattoos, according to a survey.

At least half of these American are adults between ages 30-49.

While these inked expressions of creativity allow individuals to curate a visual narrative on their skin, they can also take a tragic turn, leaving individuals with damaged organs.

But how?

Tests in New York on 54 ink samples revealed 45 unlisted compounds, including polyethylene glycol, 2-phenoxyethanol and an antibiotic, Daily Mail reported.

Polyethylene glycol may be used in tattoos as a thickening agent, making them easier to apply. It is also used in other products such as body wash, foundations and even hair spray and has been linked to organ damage including a type of necrosis in the kidneys

Meanwhile, according to experts, 2-phenoxyethanol chemical — also used in moisturisers, eye shadows and sunscreen, — prevents microbe growth.

However, it has also been linked to nervous system dysfunction in infants.

The tests found propylene glycol, an antibiotic commonly used for urinary tract infections, which was not declared on the label and may have been added to reduce contamination risks.

This antibiotic has been linked to allergic reactions causing skin conditions like eczema.

This combination of images shows singers Justin Bieber (left) and Machine Gun Kelly with their tattoos on display. — Instagram/@justinbieber, @machinegunkelly
This combination of images shows singers Justin Bieber (left) and Machine Gun Kelly with their tattoos on display. — Instagram/@justinbieber, @machinegunkelly

Tattoo inks, absorbed by white blood cells like macrophages, hold tattoos in place on the skin. However, impurities can leach into the bloodstream, potentially causing organ damage, and in some cases, they can spread throughout the body, raising the risk of unwanted side effects such as damaged organs.

Dr John Swierk, a chemist at Binghampton University who led the study, said: "We're hoping the manufacturers take this as an opportunity to reevaluate their processes, and that artists and clients take this as an opportunity to push for better labelling and manufacturing."

He added: "Our goal in a lot of this research is to empower artists and their clients. Tattoo artists are serious professionals who have dedicated their lives to this craft and they want the best possible outcomes for their clients.

"We're trying to highlight that there are some deficiencies in manufacturing and labelling."