Smoking, drinking, and mobile phones have all been implicated in the surge in cancer diagnoses.
But now it seems another cause may soon be added to the ever-growing list: tattoos.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched an investigation after new research turned up troubling findings about toxic chemicals in tattoo ink.
Studies have found that the inks can contain a host of questionable substances, including phthalates, metals, and hydrocarbons that are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
One chemical commonly used to make black tattoo ink (benzo(a)pyrene) is known to be a potent carcinogen that causes skin cancer in animal tests.
Coloured inks often contain lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium and other heavy metals that could trigger allergies or diseases.
Some pigments are industrial grade dyes ‘suitable for printers ink or automobile paint,’ according to an FDA fact sheet.
Now the FDA has launched an investigation into the long-term safety of the inks, including what happens when they break down in the body or fade from light exposure.
An estimated 45 million people in the USA, and 3 million people in Australia, have at least one tattoo.
Particular concern surrounds the use of black tattoo inks, often made from soot containing products of combustion called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
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