Tattoo inks may raise the risk of cancer and could be banned, a new report has warned.
The craze for tattoos been embraced by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and David Beckham - and even Samantha Cameron sports a tasteful dolphin butterfly on her ankle.
But now, the body that regulates chemicals across Europe has warned the inks used to create the designs may be toxic, reports Daily Mail.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said the inks can cause skin problems including allergic reactions and itching that lasts for years – raising the risk of cancer.
They may also affect fertility and child development, it said.
The ECHA will soon publish a list of chemicals commonly used in tattoo inks – and is exploring whether they should be banned across the EU.
Red tattoo ink was deemed the most dangerous, with blue, green and black also potentially risky.
When a chemical is mutagenic, it means it can change a cell's DNA, leading to more mutations which may lead to cancer.
The ECHA was asked to review tattoo ink after concerns that despite the fact they are injected into the body, they are not subjects to the same regulations governing drugs and food.
If restrictions are needed, it is likely they will come into practice within a year, the agency said.
It is estimated that 20 per cent of Britons have tattoos, and one in three young adults.
The news comes after study shows more than one in 20 people getting ‘inked’ suffer tattoo-related complications with high rates of infection, itching and swelling.
Researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Centre found as many as six per cent of adults getting a tattoo experienced some form of related rash, severe itching or swelling that lasted longer than four months and, in some cases, for many years.
They warned treatment is not always successful.
And another study by researchers from Bradford Universities also revealed toxins from tattoo ink could be absorbed into the body and cause cancer.
They believe ink nanoparticles could enter the bloodstream and accumulate in the spleen and kidneys, harming the body's ability to filter impurities.