Tattoos and Bladder Cancer

Reading an article in a Consumer Reports magazine and thought I would share it with everyone since tattoos are so popular today. I am wondering if we will see a big increase in the number of people diagnosed with bladder cancer down the road and if this is something that should be included when listing risk factors. It is something that I think should be studied.

Also if anyone wants a MRI, you cannot have a tattoo including eyeliner tattoos. I am always asked before my MRI if I have any type of tattoo at Sloan Kettering.

Here is what the report says:

One big problem with tattoos is that there's no good data on the safety of injectable inks. The Food and Drug Administration is researching tattoo inks, but none is now approved for injection into the skin. In fact, many ink pigments are industrial-strength colors suitable for printer's ink or auto paint. These pigments are illegal in cosmetics in Europe because they can break down into cancer-causing compounds.

What's more, your immune system views tattoos as an invader, which is why traces of ink can wind up in your lymph nodes and why some folks develop granulomas, small knots or bumps that form around the particles of tattoo ink. END

Of course bladder cancer is NOT mentioned as I suppose no research has yet to be done but we all know that working with chemicals especially printers is a risk factor for bladder cancer.

Edited January 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

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Food for thought, Nancy. So much research is yet to be done. But, it makes sense that the dye could be detrimental to our health. Our bodies know when a foreign matter is introduced.

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That's very interesting Nancy, and thank you for sharing that with us. Makes since though about injectable inks.

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Yowch. Thanks!

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It's a thought but over the years they have said different things cause cancer, the one I like best is a Burger off the BBQ I mean come on cut me a break. I still say genes are responsible for cancer or what type you get. Maybe I had colon cancer and my antibodies fought that off but didn't with BC. CrazYHorse

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Hmm...I have alot of tattoos but no one every said anything to me in relation to MRI's? Believe it or not but my eyeliner is done too, at a tattoo parlor not a doctor's office. I was young... when I wasnt using my brain. When I think now the risk Oh Boy...LOL Thanks for the info.

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I think we all do things when we are young without thinking about the consequences. I colored my hair for 40 years and have read that it could cause bladder cancer. I even read about it years ago and said that it wouldn't happen to me.

This article said nothing about bladder cancer. I was only speculating and suggesting that there needs to be some research to find out IF there is any connection. What caught my eye was the "printer's ink" statement because I recently met Patti whose dad has bc and was a printer. He was told that his profession may have contributed.

Don't mean to make you worry, Yvonne. No conclusions here.

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Nancy that's interesting.. thanks for sharing. I don't have tatoos (not brave enough back in the day ha ha) but when i had the mri at sloan, they didn't ask me that.... they asked me a million other questions... interesting......
hugs to you..... my role model and sharer of dr. bochner :)
xo michelle

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Just an FYI, My husband got BC before he ever got a tatoo, so I still believe that somehow it's in the genes.

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I use to work in dermatology and oh boy can people get allergic reactions to the dyes tattoo "artists" use.....MANY years later. All of a sudden their body rejects it and it gets all puffy and ugly.

Also, there is a the risk of picking up Hepatitis C from less than sanitary conditions. :p


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Thank you. Very interesting information. I never gave the dangers of INK any thought. I'm not a big tattoo guy anyway. I was thinking I would get one of the Washington Redskins logo inked on my shoulder when they win their next Super Bowl. After this last season, it looks like I will never have to worry about it ......

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I don't know the composition of tattoo ink. However, for what it's worth, aniline dyes are a risk factor for bladder cancer.
Godspeed, Ed

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Hi -
My daughter wanted to get a tattoo this year (she's 33) and researched the process and risks quite thoroughly. The inks in most of the good tattoo parlors are much safer than they used to be, as is the cleanliness. We were both amazed at the transformation of the tattoo business, also with the huge numbers of people getting tattoos nowadays.

However, this is one of the "possible" causes of bladder cancer, along with genetics, smoking, broccoli, and golfing :)

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