Sorry Mom: Getting Lots Of Tattoos Could Have A Surprising Health Benefit

The next time Grandma criticizes your multiple tattoos, tell her they might just be a sign that you’re healthy.

A new study published in the American Journal of Human Biology last weekand getting lots of ink since then — suggests that people with multiple tattoos have a better immune response to new tattoos than people who are getting tattooed for the first time.

According to the research, “Tattooing may stimulate the immune system in a manner similar to a vaccination to be less susceptible to future pathogenic infiltration.” While the study has a small sample size and is not yet conclusive, it provides fascinating evidence of how well the body can be “trained” to respond to stresses over time.

For the study, researchers at the University of Alabama collected saliva samples from 29 volunteers before and after they were given tattoos. Nine of those participants were receiving tattoos for the first time. They then analyzed the participants’ saliva samples for levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that lines portions of our gastrointestinal and respiratory systems, and cortisol, a stress hormone known to suppress immune response.

“Immunoglobulin A is a front line of defense against some of the common infections we encounter, like colds,” Christopher Lynn, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama who co-authored the study, wrote in a press release.

According to the researchers, the saliva samples from first-time tattoo recipients showed their levels of immunoglobulin A declined much more dramatically than they did for the people who already had multiple tattoos, suggesting that people with more “tattoo experience” had immune systems that were more habituated to that kind of stress.

Lynn isn’t suggesting people go out and get full sleeve tattoos to ward off colds and the flu just yet. In fact, he said, a —> Read More