Looking to add to your forearm piece, or pondering over the thought of getting a mandala on your body? Stop thinking, and go for it, because science has got your ass covered. Literally. New research has found out that getting more than one tattoo can boost a person’s immunological response, which ultimately makes your body better prepared to fight off infections. But here’s the catch; you need to get more than one tattoo to alert your immunological responses.

According to researchers from the University of Alabama, getting a bunch of tattoos is a lot like exercising. When you first start, your body is weakened by the new stress. At the gym, this means sore muscles. For tattooing, the process often leaves you feeling generally exhausted because your body is wondering why you injected a foreign contaminant deep into your skin.

Can getting multiple tattoos act as an immunological exercise routine?

YES. The researchers were able to verify this by heading out to a local tattoo shop and recruiting volunteers for a study that examined how many tattoos a person had and how long each tattooing session was. With this data, they then analysed blood samples to gauge the canvas’ levels of immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody, and cortisol, a stress hormone.

Participants who were getting their very first tattoo had a large drop in immunoglobulin A, thanks to rising cortisol levels. As for those who had been tattooed many times before, immunoglobulin A levels decreased only a tiny bit, which, according to the team, suggests that the body is strengthening its immunological response.

“After the stress response, your body returns to an equilibrium,” said Christopher Lynn, one of the study’s authors. “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.”

While the study makes some very interesting observations in the context of tattooing and skin issues, it must also be noted that the study was conducted with just 24 women and 5 men, a sample size that’s large enough to suggest that something is going on here, but small enough to warrant further study to confirm that.

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