Rocking a little gallery of ink on your body? It’s likely that you’ve got a stronger immune system than your plain-skinned friends.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology, people with multiple tattoos have a better immune response when getting new ink than those who are getting a tatt for the first time.
When you get a tattoo, your body sends agents to fight any potential infections that might occur at the sight. For those who frequently go under the needle, it seems that the body hikes up the threshold required to trigger this kind of response. In other words, your first tattoo acts in much the same way as a vaccination, in that it helps strengthen your immune system against future infection.
The University of Alabama researches discovered this by testing the saliva of 29 volunteers for immunoglobulin A, an antibody that is a front-line defence against common infections like colds, and cortisol, a stress hormone that suppresses immune response. Among the sample, were first timers and seasoned tattoo recipients, and all were tested before and after receiving their new ink.
What they discovered is that the immunoglobulin A levels in people with multiple tattoos didn’t decline nearly as dramatically after the event as it did in those popping their tattoo cherries.
Of course, no one is advocating you run out and get a bunch of ink to stay healthy – the study was small and by no means conclusive. But it does provide interesting evidence about how the body adapts to immune stress over time.
So there, Mum! Science!