Free shipping on all orders over $50  |  Play smart. Play safe. Non-toxic suncare

Black Ink Tattoos, Skin Cancer and the Need for Sunscreen

by kelly / September, 9 2015 01:30

Yes, the title is a lot but I'll get to explaining everything and how it all works together.  Recently I happened upon a few articles related to black ink tattoos and how they potentially prevent skin cancer.  These articles all stemmed from a study completed earlier in the summer.   

While the study's findings are interesting - I don't want people to interpret this to mean that you shouldn't practice sun protection or use sunscreen if you have black ink tattoos which I'll explain below.


The Study

This study was originally commissioned to prove the opposite - that black ink is more prone to skin cancer because according to the original assumption:

"Black tattoos may involve risk of cancer owing to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) in inks. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) induces skin cancer. The combination of UVR and black tattoo may therefore potentially be very problematic, but has not been previously studied."

In the end the opposite was discovered, the scientists found that the group with black ink tattoos showed fewer signs of damage than the control group without black ink tattoos.

"In UVR-irradiated black tattoos, remarkably, the development of UVR-induced skin cancer was delayed by the tattoos. Skin reflectance measurement indicated that the protective effect of black pigment in the dermis might be attributed to UVR absorption by black pigment below the epidermis and thereby reduction of backscattered radiation."


My Concerns

I don't want people to take away that if you have black ink tattoos you are free from sun protection or wearing sunblock.  For one reason the study was not conducted on human skin.  The study was conducted on mice and you know how we feel about animal testing - it's a DON'T in our books.  I'm not a scientist but I don't know if you can conclude that the results would be exactly the same on humans.

The study also eludes to the fact that UV rays from the sun are a leading cause of skin damage (and premature skin aging).  So secondly and most obviously, the majority of people's entire bodies are not covered in black tattoos so you'll still definitely need to cover up or wear sunscreen on all exposed skin parts (and all year-round).  We have recommended amounts of sunscreen per exposed body part here on our blog.

Finally, skin cancer is on the rise in the US so prevention and protection of the skin is paramount and goes beyond tattoos.  So it's always important to read between the lines of these articles and studies and employ some suncare smarts.

Tags: , , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus