If you’ve ever talked with family or friends about wanting to get a tattoo, you’re probably all too familiar with the spiel: it’s permanent, you’ll regret it, you won’t be able to find a good job, and so on.

While
lectures like these can be annoying to sit through when you’ve got
your heart set on a special design, the message behind them is true — tattoos are a huge commitment that some jump into before giving them
enough consideration. In fact, one in four tattooed people between
the ages of 18 and 35 have regrets about their ink. It’s the reason
why so many opt to have them removed later in life and the biggest
argument against going under the gun.

What isn’t talked about as much, however, are the health risks associated with this form of body modification. So if you want to get a tattoo, great — but here are four potential consequences you should think about first.

1. Some inks are toxic. A 2016 study funded by the Australian government found that one in five tattoo inks contain carcinogenic chemicals, which were also found in 83 percent of the black inks tested. What’s more in that of the 49 inks test, only four were in compliance with European health standards for ink composition.

2. Tattoos can interfere with medical treatment. A 2015 report in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology describes how doctors mistakenly concluded that a woman’s cervical cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. During surgery to remove the nodes, doctors realized that what they’d identified as malignant cells was really tattoo ink. Other similar misdiagnoses have been reported as well.


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