Does your tattoo stop the coof? Science says tatted bodies have stronger immune systems A new study supports the idea that going under the needle affects our immune system and suggests that inked veterans may have stronger systems than the rest of us.

Anyone who has endured a tattoo session knows the process isn’t exactly a cakewalk. This includes the healing process. Like any other experience that breaks skin, tattoos require a healing period in which the body recovers from the trauma. A new study supports the idea that going under the needle affects our immune system and suggests that inked veterans may have stronger systems than the rest of us.

The study, recently published in the American Journal of Human Biology, followed 29 participants between the ages of 18 and 47 before and after sitting through a tattoo session. Each person’s saliva was pretested and post-tested for amounts of immunoglobulin A and cortisol, both of which can indicate stress levels. They found that those who had more previous exposure to the tattoo process showed lower signs of stress on their systems.

One possible conclusion to consider is people who heal more quickly from the tattoo process are more likely to come back for more. So, rather than suggesting that getting a tattoo can boost someone’s immune system, the study invites the thought that people with healthier systems seek out tattoos more so than others. Being covered in ink may be a sign of someone with a rocking immune system.

Christopher Lynn, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama and a co-author of the study, says, “My hope is that people with poor immune systems aren’t subjecting themselves to a lot of tattoos, and no, I don’t think it would give them as good a boost.” He is currently interested in expanding the research to see if the area of the body on which people get ink affects their immune capabilities, as well as taking his studies to the Samoan culture.

Because of the small, similar sample size of the current study—and the super-clean conditions of the shops—Lynn hopes to find out what happens to his results when studying the more traditional practices of using sharp sticks in not-so-sanitized conditions.

About the relatively new world of studying widespread tattoo health effects across cultures, Lynn says, “I don’t really expect there to be much difference in the biological implications among Pacific tattooing traditions, but one of the great things about a provocative study like this is it opens up a whole new world of questions. So who knows?”

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3 thoughts on “<span class="entry-title-primary">Does your tattoo stop the coof? Science says tatted bodies have stronger immune systems</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">A new study supports the idea that going under the needle affects our immune system and suggests that inked veterans may have stronger systems than the rest of us.</span>”

  1. If you have a horrible reaction.....??? - then what,... - could be too extreme to offer a quick remedy,.... But my concern is colored Ink or other dyes in the flesh, (sounds rather risky just to say it) - Most likely not a completely wise decision, but, these days, fads are widely advocated by the dictates of the digital collective. Not loads of concern for the ultimate wholesomeness of activities. My preference is with the unmarred look of healthy flesh. If an occasional temporary tat is put on for fun, that seems less of a gamble. Of course, those who want to tattoo will do so regardless of possible complications. It was that way in the '50(s) and even much more so in this millennium.

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  2. Considering the current hepatitis plague, it is beyond me why anyone would risk getting a tattoo. They are certainly unattractive to me as well.

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  3. Years ago, while in the Marines, I got an eagle tattoo on the back of my right arm. Today the eagle looks like a pterodactyl. I am immune from Triassic and Cretaceous immune diseases?

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