Toxic inks from tattoos can permeate into people's bodies and increase the risk of cancer, experts have warned.
British scientists have found evidence that nanoparticles from the tattoo inks can get into major organs of the body.
Tattoo ink manufacturers acknowledge that 5 per cent of tattoo studios use inks containing carcinogenic compounds, though they are campaigning to reduce it to zero.
Desmond Tobin, director of Bradford University's centre for skin sciences, with Colin Grant, a medical engineer at the university, has shown that collagen, the body's connective tissue, is permanently damaged by the dyes, and that nanoparticles of tattoo pigment are transferred away from the skin and into the body.
Tobin believes that toxins in the dyes may be entering the bloodstream and accumulating in the spleen or the kidneys, both organs responsible for filtering impurities from the blood, 'The Sunday Times' reported.
"It takes a long time for the multiple-step nature of cancer to show its face. I don't think we should wait 20 years to see if there is anything wrong with these ingredients," he said.
A study by Jorgen Serup, professor of dermatology at Copenhagen's university hospital, found cancer-causing chemicals in 13 out of 21 commonly used European tattoo inks.
"Millions of Europeans are now being tattooed with chemical substances of unknown origin," said Serup, who has organised the first international conference on tattoo and ink pigment damage, which is taking place in Copenhagen in November.
"Until now, no one has really looked at the risks, and we need to get proper research going in this field," he said.
"People should be given written information about the inks that are used on them. It may be that, like cigarette smoking, they still choose to take the risk, but they need to be informed," he said.
According to the website of the Tattoo Ink Manufacturers of Europe group: "Up to 5 per cent of tattoo studios use inks
containing carcinogenic aromatic amines. We want to reduce [the presence of these] to zero."
The group is campaigning for regulation and legislation to do this, saying EU member states should force producers of tattoo inks to conduct full risk evaluations on their products and to make the results public.