Can Getting a Tattoo Boost Your Health?

posted: 03/11/16
by: Mara Betsch
person tattoo

Tattoos are often associated with health risks -- allergic reactions, infections, etc. -- instead of health benefits, but a recent study found that a little ink may be good for your body.

In fact, tattoos may actually stimulate the immune system, according to a small study published in the American Journal of Human Biology, or, as the researchers suggest, people who have tattoos may have genetic factors that breed stronger immune systems.

Nearly 30 men and women participated in the study, which looked at the saliva of each person before and after a tattoo session, measuring levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects the body against infection, and cortisol, a stress hormone that, among other things, slows down your body's immune system. The researchers wanted to see if those who had more tattoo experience (aka had more tattoos) were more likely to have an "immunological boost" than those who were tattoo newbies. And it turns out, they did. Those with more tattoos showed a better immune response to their ink than those who were getting inked for the first time.

So, it begs the questions, does getting tattoos speed up healing time, or are those people with healthier immune responses more likely to get tattoos because of their innate healing abilities? The researchers speculate that just like with any stress to the body, your internal systems adjust and build up their defenses to battle this stress, getting more efficient each time.

Though we wouldn't recommend getting a tattoo just to fight the flu, it's good to know that a little ink may go a long way to helping your immune system.