Body

Having lots of tattoos 'good for your immune system'

They can divide opinion like nothing else.

Girl with green hair and tattoos
Girl with green hair and tattoos

People with tattoos are used to being judged. And despite the age old mantra that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover –this doesn’t seem to apply when someone has ink on their skin.

But although they might upset many more conservative members of the population, new research has revealed that in actual fact, tattoos could be good for your health.

A study conducted by the University of Alabama analysed saliva from a small sample group and looked at immune response.

The researchers collected saliva from 29 volunteers before and after they were given tattoos, and the results were clear.

What they found was that the levels of immunoglobulin A - an antibody crucial to immune function- was in higher supply after the tattooing session.

The researchers stated:

“Tattooing may stimulate the immune system in a manner similar to a vaccination to be less susceptible to future pathogenic infiltration.”

However what was most interesting about the study, was that those who already had tattoos had a stronger immune response than those who were tattoo virgins.

Therefore – the more tattoos you have, supposedly the stronger your immunity.

But, and this is a big but, the sample size of this study was incredibly small and predominantly involved white, young and healthy individuals.

For more conclusive evidence, the sample size would need to be extended and to include people from other backgrounds.

Similarly, the study authors warn that “tattooing is an injury to the skin that can become infected or stimulate immune responses that damage the site,” and people shouldn’t necessarily assume that getting lots of tattoos is good for them – especially if hygiene standards aren’t high.

Where the study was conducted in Alabama, tattoo hygiene standards are high and the recipients looked at healthy.

Read the full study here

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