Youth, prison inmates, and individuals with multiple tattoos that cover large parts of their bodies are at higher risk of contracting hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases, according to a University of British Columbia study.
The researchers reviewed and analyzed 124 studies from 30 countries, including Canada, Iran, Italy, Brazil, and the United States, and found the cases of hepatitis C after tattooing is directly linked to the number of tattoos an individual receives.
Tattoos are increasing in popularity. In the U.S., an estimated 36 per cent of people under 30 have tattoos. More and more baby boomers are getting tattoos with about 20 percent of adults between the age of 40 and 64 reported having one or more tattoos.
During tattooing, the skin is punctured 80 to 150 times a second in order to inject color pigments.
"Since tattoo instruments come in contact with blood and bodily fluids, infections may be transmitted if instruments are used on more than one person without being sterilized or without proper hygiene techniques," says UBC researcher Dr. Siavash Jafari.
"Furthermore, tattoo dyes are not kept in sterile containers and may play a carrier role in transmitting infections," says Jafari. "Clients and the general public need to be educated on the risks associated with tattooing, and tattoo artists need to discuss harms with clients."
Other tattooing risks identified by the study include allergic reactions, HIV, hepatitis B, bacterial or fungal infections, and risks associated with tattoo removal.
The researchers are calling for infection-control guidelines for tattoo artists and consumers, and enforcement of these guidelines through inspections, reporting of adverse events, and record-keeping.
They also recommend prevention programs that focus on youth – the population who are most likely to get tattoos – and prisoners – who have a higher rate of hepatitis C – to lower the spread of hepatitis infection.
The chemical ingredients in tattoo dyes can include house paint, ink from computer printers, or industrial carbon. Toxic contents of some tattoo inks may be entering the kidney, lungs, and lymph nodes through the circulatory system. The study also revealed a new trend among youth to get tattooed with glow-in-the-dark ink, the risks of which aren’t yet known.
Thanks to ConsumerAffairs.com for a heads up on this article.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist