The FDA has cautioned consumers over tattoos: Think Before you Ink: Are Tattoos Safe? The agency hasn’t decided on the answer, so what does one do if one feels the terrible urge to get tattooed right now?
Temporary Permanent Fad
Tattoos have been called a permanent sign of temporary insanity. They represent a fad that has always seemed as if it would vanish any day. But on the contrary, more and more people seem to be getting tattooed. It’s hard to find a professional baseball, basketball or football player not “tatted out.” Even college athletes seem to be half covered in (indecipherable) tattoos. You see tattoos on the shoulders and backs of “Supermodels” and actors, tattoos poking out of a wedding dress, smudging the necks or arms of young beauties announcing their nuptials in the Sunday paper. What gives?
A Subversive Act?
Once upon a time, tattooing seemed an oddball, rare thing, a strident act of subversion against the “The Man,” the status quo, the system, whatever. Tattooing was once done primarily by sailors, soldiers, prostitutes, homosexuals, prisoners – those feeling disenfranchised or pushed to the periphery of society. Not any more.
In some circles today, a tattoo seems more like the conventional act of someone longing to belong rather than the militant act of an “individual” staking a claim to the self. (‘I got this tattoo for me, not for you or anybody else.’ Really? Then why didn’t you spell that word backwards so you could read it yourself in the mirror? You’ve got it spelled out like you’re a walking billboard, obviously meant for others to read.) ‘I’m unique because I have a tattoo’ has morphed into: ‘I’m unique because my tattoo is different from your tattoo,’ or, ‘I’ve got more street cred because I have more tattoos than you.’ (All of which is great news for tattoo parlors.) It seems every other person you see is tattooed. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but not by much, in some circles.
Some 45 million people in the U.S. have at least one tattoo, reports Natural News. Forty five million! Some 36 percent of adults in their late 30s have at least one tattoo.
Bad News Tattoos
The problem with a tattoo is that the epidermis, the skin, is an organ, like the liver or lungs. Would you tattoo your girlfriend’s or your dead friend’s name on your liver? Not if you knew what was in the ink. Many tattoo inks contain toxic heavy metals, phthalates, hydrocarbons.
Natural News reports that many tattoo inks are laden with heavy metals – mercury, lead, antimony, beryllium, cadmium and arsenic, to name a few – that have been linked to several health problems, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Mercury, a neurotoxin, can damage the brain and lead to physical and emotional disorders. Lead causes brain damage, interferes with body processes, toxifies organs and tissues, including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems. Lead poisoning symptoms can kill, or maybe just cause abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, irritability. Beryllium is a Class A EPA carcinogen. Cadmium, a heavy metal, poses severe risks to kidneys, bones, lungs. Arsenic is a known carcinogen – you get the idea. . .
The Body Reads if Others Don’t
Tattoo Removal presents a whole other set of problems. Tattoos are permanent, unlike one’s moods, thoughts, opinions, girlfriends, boyfriends, prejudices, whatever. We keep changing, and our bodies keep absorbing everything we put into – or ON – them. But unlike many or most people targeted for (and uninterested in) the tattooed person’s message, the body keeps reading, and trying to clear its toxic impurities.
Tattoos and Hepatitis
The National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, has found a link between Hepatitis C and those who have at least one tattoo. See it here: The Hep C Tattoo Connection.