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European Agency Links Red Tattoo Ink and Cancer

July 27, 2016 — European health experts are warning that tattoo inks may cause cancer, especially red ink, according to The Sun.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) plans to publish a list of chemicals they found in tattoo inks. They are considering banning certain inks in the European Union.

In the meantime, they say tattoo inks can be toxic and increase the risk of cancer. The risk is greatest for red ink, but also blue, green, and black. According to the agency:

“The most severe concerns are allergies caused by the substances in the inks and possible carcinogenic, mutagenic or reproductive toxic effects.”

In one case report from September 2014, a 48 year-old man developed a type of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma only in the red areas of his tattoo. His artist used non-toxic organic “Dark Red” ink by Ethereal Ink.

The cancer spread rapidly and the man underwent several surgeries. Doctors had to transplant healthy skin from his arm onto his thigh after removing the tattooed skin and cancer.

Toxic chemicals are just one risk of tattoo inks. The FDA has also warned about bacterial contamination that can cause severe infections, skin reactions, itching, bumps, and permanent disfigurement. The reactions can occur immediately or years after getting the tattoo.

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