A new study suggesting that tattoos could be associated with an increased risk for lymphoma, including CTCL, may get a lot of ink. However, rather than inspire fear among those with body art, researchers note that their findings are preliminary and urge further investigation.

Writing in the journal, EClinicalMedicine, researchers from Lund University in Sweden suggests that the risk of developing lymphoma is 21% higher among individuals with tattoos, compared to controls, even after controlling for smoking and age. The researchers note the tattoo size does not seem to modify the risk.

The study looked at records for 11,905 people, including 2,938 diagnosed with lymphoma when they were between 20 and 60 years old.

“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,” says researcher Christel Nielsen.

Tattoos have long been a dermatology-adjacent topic, with specialists dealing with everything from allergic reactions to inks to using lasers and other interventions to erase tattoos.

Authors of the new study note that evidence has previously shown that tattoo ink migrates within the body and that tattooing can initiate an inflammatory response in the body. However, they emphasize that they are not yet certain what may contribute to the apparent increased risk for lymphoma. They also urge individuals not to be alarmed but to see a healthcare professional if they have any health concerns.

The research group plans to investigate whether there is any association between tattoos and other types of cancer. They also want to do further research on other inflammatory diseases to see if there is a link to tattoos.