While many people get tattoos to give off a certain image of toughness on the outside, it can actually make you stronger on the inside, also. A new study published in the American Journal of Human Biology found that people who get tattoos generally have a stronger immune system.
The study included 24 women and five men ranging from age 18 to 47 who had an appointment to get tattooed. Researchers at the University of Alabama gathered saliva samples from participants before and after getting tattooed, and tested their levels of immunoglobulin A (an antibody that floods the immune system when you have an infection like a cold) and cortisol (a stress hormone that weakens your immune system). When your immune system becomes weakened, you’re more prone to infections, colds, and viruses than if you had a strong immune system.
While they did find that getting a new tattoo can suppress your immune system, those who had tattoos already didn’t take as big a hit to their immunity. The study didn’t have many participants, but despite the small size, it still shows the amazing link between tattoos and the immune system.
The researchers explained two possible reasons for the results of the study: One, people who have been previously tattooed already knew what to expect, so their bodies didn’t release as much cortisol during the experience. Two, their bodies had become used to the process, and therefore, they didn’t have as strong a response while getting tattooed. Think about a cashier who must stand for long hours day in and day out while on the job – they might feel sore at first, but eventually, their bodies become used to it. People who get tattoos have similar immunity after a while.
While getting tattoos won’t ward off the flu or prevent you from catching a cold, they might strengthen your immunity over time if you get enough of them. This can also explain why people who get inked for the first time can feel sick during the experience, since their system doesn’t have the same immunity as those who already know what to expect. So, the next time people give you a hard time about wanting a ton of tattoos, you can just reference this article and tell them the incredible health benefits that go along with getting inked as well!