malignant lymphoma, tattoos, study, Lund University, Swedish

Study Reveals Higher Risk Of Malignant Lymphoma In People With Tattoos

Initially, researchers speculated that tattoo size might influence lymphoma risk.

A recent study by a Swedish university suggests a possible link between malignant lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system, and individuals with tattoos.

However, health experts emphasize the need for further research to confirm this association.

Lund University’s Christel Nielsen, Ph.D., the lead researcher, organized a team that analyzed data from 11,905 individuals in Sweden and released the results. The subjects were individuals diagnosed with lymphoma between 2007 and 2017 to folks of the same age and gender who were cancer-free.

The study used information from the Swedish National Cancer Register to focus on participants aged 20 to 60. Among the participants, 2,938 individuals were diagnosed with lymphoma.

In 2021, the researchers surveyed 1,398 lymphoma patients and 4,193 cancer-free participants to understand lifestyle factors that might influence lymphoma risk, such as smoking, age, and tattoo history.

The study found that 21% of lymphoma patients and 18% of cancer-free individuals had tattoos. Notably, the risk of developing lymphoma was 21% higher among those with tattoos, especially within two years of getting their first tattoo.

Initially, researchers speculated that tattoo size might influence lymphoma risk, considering those with extensive tattoos might face higher risks. However, they found no correlation between tattoo size and lymphoma risk.

“We do not yet know why this was the case. [We] can only speculate that a tattoo, regardless of size, triggers a low-grade inflammation in the body, which in turn can trigger cancer. The picture is thus more complex than we initially thought,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen further emphasized the need for research to fully comprehend the long-term health implications of tattoos. The team plans to conduct a comprehensive assessment to explore potential correlations between tattoos, various cancers, and inflammatory diseases.

“People will likely continue to express their identity through tattoos, so it is vital that we, as a society, ensure that it is safe. For the individual, it is good to know that tattoos can affect your health and that you should consult your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms that could be related to your tattoo,” Nielsen said.