Tattoo inks contain heavy metals and other substances linked to numerous health problems, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Mercury, lead, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, and arsenic are all found in tattoo inks and the publication Natural News (naturalnews.com) reports the health risks linked to these substances:
• Mercury is a neurotoxin and has detrimental effects on the nervous system, leading to physical and emotional disorders.
• Lead is toxic to the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and nervous and reproductive systems. Lead poisoning may cause seizures, coma, and death. Abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, and irritability also result from lead exposure.
• Beryllium, a Class A carcinogen according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), may also cause a fatal lung disease.
• Cadmium may cause kidney, bone, and pulmonary damage.
• Arsenic, a known carcinogen, may also cause genetic damage.
• Antimony is an irritant to the eyes, skin, and lungs. Continued antimony exposure may cause heart and lung problems, diarrhea, severe vomiting, and stomach ulcers.
Hydrocarbons and phthalates are also present in tattoo inks. Animal studies have shown that phthalates damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Many people later decide to have tattoos removed, but tattoo removal also poses health risks, according to Natural News. Dissolving the ink with laser treatments–the most popular removal technique–may release metals and other dangerous substances into the bloodstream, where they can be absorbed. Some ink ingredients are gradually eliminated from the body but may cause damage before they are eliminated. Some substances are never eliminated. Natural News advises that it may be safer to leave tattoos in place, or, best of all, not get tattooed.