Getting inked could elevate the risk of developing lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, a study revealed.

Tattooing is a form of permanent body art that many people embrace to express their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and experiences. While known side effects include the possibility of allergies, skin infections, and an increased risk of blood-borne infections from tattoo equipment, there are not many studies on the long-term risks.

Researchers of the latest study published in the journal eClinicalMedicine discovered that tattoos raise the risk of cancer affecting the lymphatic system by 12% and risk prevails irrespective of the size of the tattoo.

Of a total of more than 11,000 participants, 2,938 received a diagnosis of lymphoma between the ages of 20 and 60. During the study, 1,398 lymphoma patients and a control group of 4,193 participants responded to a questionnaire.

The results showed that in the group with lymphoma, 21% were tattooed, while only 18% were tattooed in the control group without a lymphoma diagnosis.

"We have identified people diagnosed with lymphoma via population registers. These individuals were then matched with a control group of the same sex and age, but without lymphoma. The study participants answered a questionnaire about lifestyle factors to determine whether they were tattooed or not," Christel Nielsen, the study's lead author, said in a news release.

"After taking into account other relevant factors, such as smoking and age, we found that the risk of developing lymphoma was 21% higher among those who were tattooed. It is important to remember that lymphoma is a rare disease and that our results apply at the group level. The results now need to be verified and investigated further in other studies and such research is ongoing," Nielson added.

The researchers initially suspected that a full-body tattoo might lead to a higher risk of cancer compared to a small-sized tattoo. However, their findings revealed that the cancer risk remains regardless of the tattoo's size. The study has not examined the reason behind it.

"One can only speculate that a tattoo, regardless of size, triggers a low-grade inflammation in the body, which in turn can trigger cancer. The picture is thus more complex than we initially thought," Nielson said.

"People will likely want to continue to express their identity through tattoos, and therefore it is very important that we as a society can make sure that it is safe. For the individual, it is good to know that tattoos can affect your health and that you should turn to your health care provider if you experience symptoms that you believe could be related to your tattoo," Nielson concluded.