The popularity of tattoos has skyrocketed during the last decades and the incidence rates of skin cancer and lymphoma have increased during the same period of time. The high prevalence of tattoos, 17% in Sweden, has brought safety concerns into the spotlight. There are plausible mechanisms through which the pigments in tattoo ink might act as a risk factor for cancer, but the long-term health effects have never been investigated.

For the first time ever, we will explore the associations between tattoos and malignant melanoma, squamous-cell carcinoma and lymphoma and answer whether having tattoos is associated with an increased risk of cancer. We will also develop a methodological framework for objective exposure assessment based on mathematical image analysis.

The research builds on three large-scale national questionnaires. We will identify cancer patients in the age span 20-55 years of age in the Swedish Cancer Registry and draw random controls from the Population Register. The study participants will be asked to anwer questions regarding tattoos and factors that might confound or modify the studied associations.

The research will fill a substantial knowledge gap. From a public health perspective, the high prevalence of tattoos implies that even a small increase in risk will have significant impact on the population. This concern will be amplified in the future as the tattooed age group grows older.

The project is funded by Forte and The Craaford Foundation.
Gällande start-/slutdatum2019/01/012023/12/31

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Medicin och hälsovetenskap