Getting Multiple Tattoos Can Boost Immunity, Prevent Common Cold- Study

tattoosTattoo designs not only make a fashion statement, they could have a major health benefit. The tattoos may confer protection against common cold by strengthening your immune system.

That’s what suggested by researchers from the University of Alabama (UA), United States.

According to the UA researchers, getting multiple tattoos could significantly boost an individual’s immunological response, which makes them better able to fight off infections.

“Tattooing may stimulate the immune system in a manner similar to a vaccination to be less susceptible to future pathogenic infiltration,” noted the authors of the study.

In order to determine whether getting lots of ink has any effects on human immunology, a team of UA researchers recruited 29 volunteers from a local tattoo shop and examined the number of tattoos they had on their bodies as well as how long each tattooing session took to finish. Of the participants, 9 were having tattoos on their body for the first time.

They then analysed saliva samples of the subjects to gauge their levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody which plays a vital role in immune function; and the stress hormone, Cortisol, which can suppress or and weaken the activity of the immune system.

After analysing the collected data, the team found that the volunteers who were getting tattooed for the very first time had a large drop in immunoglobulin A, caused by escalating cortisol levels. As for those who had multiple tattoos, their immunoglobulin A levels dropped only a tiny bit, which indicates that their body has a stronger immunological response.

“They don’t just hurt while you get the tattoo, but they can exhaust you,” said Christopher Lynn, an anthropology associate professor from UA and one of the study’s authors. “It’s easier to get sick. You can catch a cold because your defenses are lowered from the stress of getting a tattoo.”

“After the stress response, your body returns to an equilibrium,” Lynn continued. “However, if you continue to stress your body over and over again, instead of returning to the same set point, it adjusts its internal set points and moves higher.”

However, the researchers say their study is small and not yet conclusive. They said while their study provides impressive evidence of benefits of getting tattoos, it still not encourages people to get their body inked up in order to boost their immune system.

“I would not encourage anyone to get a tattoo for the sake of immune system benefit,” said Dr Sylvie Stacy, an Alabama physician. “Getting a tattoo carries significant risks – including infection, scarring, and potential adverse psychological effects. It’s very unlikely that these risks are outweighed by any boost in immune system response.”

Lynn and colleagues too have acknowledged that further study with larger sample is needed to make conclusions.

The research was published in the American Journal of Human Biology on March 4.