Tattoos vs. Your Immune System

Tattoos are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. An article on The Huffington Post declares that tattoos have become extremely mainstream and more widely acceptable. Let’s be honest, if you think tattoos are socially unacceptable, you need to be pop cultured. Tattoos in my opinion have become a way of expressing yourself. It is a way of art. Now according to author and phD, Christopher Lynn, it is a way to strengthen your immune system as well.

A study in the American Journal of Human Biology concluded that getting tattoos can actually build up your immune system, helping it to fight against sickness. Notice that tattoos is plural. Getting one tattoo is not sufficient enough to correlate with this data. In actuality, getting one tattoo can break down your immune system instead of building it up. This happens due to the amount of stress released when getting a tattoo. And we all know that stress takes a toll on our wellness. Being “tatted” more than once is what does the trick.

babies_tattoos image source

This study broken down on Epoch Times, was conducted by Christopher Lynn, Johnna Dominguez (former UA graduate student), and Dr. Jason DeCaro (professor at UA). The group of volunteers being studied were 24 women and 5 men ranging between the ages of 18 to 47. They were then asked questions like, how many tattoos have they gotten? A confounding variable was the timespan in which these volunteers got their tattoos. The researchers were looking for the level of immunoglobulin A in each volunteer. Immunoglobulin A is an antibody in our immune system. To receive these levels, they took a sample of each volunteers saliva. The results found that people who got their first tattoo had a large decrease in immunoglobulin A levels. The opposite was found for people who were getting their second tattoo. For them getting another tattoo still had a slight decrease in immunoglobulin A, but the drop was not as significant compared to people who just got their first tattoo.

Why is this? Well, it is like when your body isn’t used to a different time zone. The longer you are submersed in the time zone, the more adaptive you will become to the changes. The stress you cultivate from getting a tattoo eventually finds an equilibrium. This stress equilibrium is always adapting as you keep getting tattoos. So who knew getting more than one tattoo had other effects on your body other than just making it look cool.

I do admit that this study is not very large, so their findings may not be as accurate as a larger study. Also they studied a lot more women than men. The study could have been more diverse gender wise. Confounding variables could have played a part in this study as well. How strong were the contestants immune systems before the tattooing? Were they dealing with stressful situations in their life at the time? All of these outside variables could play a role.

Given the statistics of this study and the credibility of the researchers, I am convinced that getting more than one tattoo can strengthen your immune system. I suppose this gives me another reason to convince my parents in letting me get a tattoo. I am a tattoo virgin now, but hopefully not for long. And once you get one, they say you can’t stop. Ending on that note, any suggestions for a good tattoo parlor in State College?

tattoo image source


4 thoughts on “Tattoos vs. Your Immune System

  1. Mairead Donnard

    This was definitely an interesting blog to read! While I do not plan on ever getting a tattoo (because I am so indecisive) I think they are cool and can have such amazing messages. Logically, it would make sense that tattoos would not be too clean considering a needle is going into your body, but it was interesting to see that it is not too bad after all. Not only do tattoos improve immune health, but they seemingly make people feel better about themselves which is an amazing added benefit!

  2. Luyi Yao

    I really want a tattoo, but I fear that making a tattoo is too painful. When we talk about tattoos, I always worried about its safety. I just thought that injecting pigments into skin is a little bit dangerous, although, to some extent, getting a tattoo can release people stress psychologically. So I’m surprising that getting tattoos can build up immune system, helping it to fight against sickness. I agree with your view that the study is not well-conducted, because the subjects, too small, not randomized, can cause confounding variables and cannot be representative sample. So we need more researches.

  3. Jessy Severino

    tattoos and helping your immune system. I wouldn’t have guessed that getting tattoos is a good thing I’ve always heard that people who have tattoos can’t donate blood because their blood is contaminated with ink. I don’t know if that is true but this is interesting to know that having multiple tattoos improves you’re immune system. Personally I don’t like needles but I can say how tattoos can relieve stress. It would be cool to have more info on this study being that it wasn’t so big and just focused on women. I’m definitely going to look more into this topic and see what I find.

  4. Mallory Dixon

    I thought this article was interesting because I have 4 tattoos. I’ve wanted to get a tattoo since I was 14. But, I only wanted one because I thought they were pretty. Since I have gotten my first, I felt my self confidence go up and I would get them as ways to cope with things going on in my life. I was getting them to move on from tough times or to celebrate good things, I had no idea getting them could improve my physical help. However, I wish you had more information regarding the accuracy of the study. (I know you said it was generalized around women and there aren’t many experiments related to this). I’m hoping more scientists begin researching this because this topic really interests me!

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