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.