Tattoos have evolved over the years, but are they harmful or toxic to the body?
When most cancer survivors ask their oncologists if they can get a tattoo, the answer is, "No! And don't even think about it." The reason often stems from numerous studies looking at a possible connection between tattoos and leukemia, a blood cancer. The big concern is chemicals in the dye that will go directly on and potentially in the skin. The key questions many studies are trying to answer right now are: "What are in the dyes?" "Do they go directly into the blood stream for some or all?" "What is the impact of the dyes long-term?" and "Why are those dyes not regulated in he first place?"
So if everything else that can potentially go into your bloodstream is regulated, then why isn't tattoo ink?
First, to give you perspective, I have to share one cautionary rule that many oncologists tell survivors to follow in order to lower their risk, and this is certainly good for anyone. Think before you apply anything to your skin because it does have the potential to go directly into your bloodstream, and that includes sunscreen, bug spray or lotion. This should come as no surprise, especially with the existence of a birth control patch the size of a bandage that goes directly into your bloodstream. So if everything else that can potentially go into your bloodstream is regulated, why isn't tattoo ink?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states on its website, "While state and local authorities oversee the practice of tattooing, ink and ink colorings (pigments) used in tattoos are subject to FDA regulation as cosmetics and color additives. However, because of other public health priorities and a previous lack of evidence of safety concerns, FDA has not traditionally regulated tattoo inks or the pigments used in them." After receiving various reports of adverse reactions to tattoo ink, the FDA launched an investigation in 2008. It has a warning on its website to consumers that says several of the pigments used in tattoo ink are "industrial-grade colors suitable for printers' ink or automobile paint."
The FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), research chemist Paul Howard, Ph.D., and his team are investigating to get more answers. What they do know is that some ink particles have shown the ability to go beyond the skin, into the bloodstream and into the lymph nodes or lymphatic system, which is where the body carries out disease-causing organisms. That's a problem. The FDA also found some potentially dangerous substances, including metals and hydrocarbons that are known carcinogens in the ink, saying, "One chemical commonly used to make black ink called benzo(a)pryrene is known to be a potent carcinogen that causes skin cancer in animal tests."
Some ink particles have shown the ability to go beyond the skin, into the bloodstream and into the lymph nodes or lymphatic system, which is where the body carries out disease-causing organisms.
Outside the US, more studies are being conducted. One out of the University of Bradford in the UK found that the tattoo process removes the body's main connective tissue and the ink particles leave the surface of the skin and travel elsewhere. Another study out of the UK is led by Jorgen Serup, a professor of dermatology at Copenhagen's Bispebjerg University Hospital. He claims that he found evidence that the nanoparticles present in inks can reach major organs of the body and cause cancer. According to the International Business Times, the study says that as many as 13 out of 21 commonly used European inks have cancer causing chemicals in them. The article goes on to state that the Tattoo Ink Manufacturers of Europe "believe that about 5 percent of European tattooists use toxic ink, and wants the EU to compel ink makers to conduct risk assessments on their products and make the results public."
Think that henna tattoos might be your best shot? Think again! The Telegraph looked at a study in the United Arab Emirates, published in the "Leukemia and Lymphoma Journal." Women there who use henna to stain their nails, hands, feet, etc., face a higher incidence of leukemia. They said it is not the henna itself that is the problem but rather the compounds used as a solvent for the henna powder. That solvent contains benzene, which is known to cause cancer. According to the Telegraph, benzene is banned in many countries but still used.
I checked many tattoo website across the country to see if, perhaps, a newer, "cleaner" dye has been introduced since these studies were published, but I found no mention of anything. A few sites mentioned that there are always risks since it is a dye/pigment is permanently being added to the layers of your skin. Bottom line: There is no hard evidence that there is a 100 percent connection to leukemia but there is much cause for concern about what chemicals are in the ink, the long-term effects of the ink, and how the ink enters the body. Ask questions. Know before you ink. Perhaps, if you have a history of cancer in your family and you are at higher risk, talk to your doctor as well.
It's important to make your workplace a healthy, mentally stimulating environment for yourself.
Some people are lucky enough to work in jobs that keep them fit year-round, like Pilates instructors and Olympic athletes. The rest of us deal with prolonged sitting, donut days and weekly birthday celebrations, and then work on recovering in the after hours. But don't let those 8-hour days sabotage your efforts. Follow these tips to help keep you on the healthy track while at work.
Plan meals and snacks in advance
Men and women who plan their meals are much less likely to be obese than those who don't, according to a 2017 International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activitystudy. The same study also found that people who planned their meals enjoyed better variety and improved diet quality. Depending on your goals and eating habits, improving the quality of your meals may help you lose weight.
Another benefit to meal planning is that it leaves uncertainty off the table. When you know when and what you're going to eat, you're less likely to much on junk food.
Meal planning includes breakfast too. When you've eaten a healthy, fiber-filled breakfast, you'll be satiated for longer and will be less likely to hit the vending machine before lunch.
Eat more Lipotropic foods
While you're planning those work-day meals, consider adding more lipotropic foods to the mix. Lipotropic foods contain organic compounds that break down fat stores, prevent excess fat storage and help cleanse the liver of toxic build-up.
Major lipotropic nutrients include methionine, choline, inositol, betaine and vitamin B12.
Consider packing lunches with the following lipotropic-rich foods:
Beans & nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Flax seeds
- Soy beans
- Lean meats
- Brown Rice
Although it can be difficult to track how much water you're drinking at work, you must stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration can cause you to be drowsy and sluggish, which aren't desirable conditions at work.
Water has many health benefits, including its ability to help flush out toxins, maintain regularity and improve your complexion.
Try getting between six and eight glasses of water every day and up your intake of fresh, juicy fruits. These offer another great way to help keep you hydrated.
Make a habit of washing your hands
Throughout the work day, we encounter many people and surfaces that carry germs. Germs cause infection and this is how we get sick. To keep yourself healthy, wash your hands periodically throughout the day with soap for a minimum of 10 seconds at a time. Research done by Rutgers University shows that this is the most effective way to remove germs.
How often you wash your hands is up to you, but you should be washing after every time you use the bathroom and before you eat. If you have a cold, wash your hands more often to avoid spreading germs around the office.
Caffeine will give you a boost of energy to help start your day, but it can also lead to a mid-afternoon crash when the effect wears off. If you're drinking too much coffee, it can aggravate the nervous system and cause the adrenal gland to release cortisol. This is similar to being in a constant state of stress, and that's not good for your health. Work can be stressful enough. Limit the caffeine to one to two cups of coffee or tea per day to avoid negative consequences.
Continue your healthy habits while at work, and it'll be easier to maintain them at home. A healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet, regular exercise and good habits. Try to keep these things going regardless of where you are and you'll be on the right track.