While more young men and women are getting inked today than ever, researchers have warned that bacterial infections may happen in up to five per cent of cases, especially when the tattooing was carried out in unhygienic settings. The risk of (skin) cancer from tattoo procedures has been neither proved nor excluded, the researchers said in a European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) report.  Tattoos are created by injecting coloured inks into the skin and are intended to be permanent, thus resulting in long term exposure to the chemicals injected and, possibly, to their degradation products. The researchers explored the safety and regulation of the inks used for tattoos and permanent makeup – semi permanent tattoos used to resemble make-up. These inks contain a combination of several ingredients and more than 100 different colorants and 100 additives are currently in use. The pigments used are not specifically produced for tattoo and permanent makeup applications, and generally contain impurities.  Over 80 per cent of the colourants in use are organic chemicals and more than 60 per cent of them are a certain type of pigments, known as azo-pigments, some of which can release carcinogenic aromatic amines, the report said.

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