Is Tattoos used to fight skin cancer?

And if you suddenly discovered that tattoos are not just an aesthetic issue? But they can also help prevent skin cancer and other related diseases? Yes, we are also stunned. Nanotechnologist Carson Bruns is responsible for our claiming that they are not just skin drawings. His job is to create inks that react to the natural environment. We discover how this technology “of the future” works.

Carson Bruns, defines himself as a scientist, writer and artist. He grew up in Colorado and today is one of the most important nanotechnologists in the world. He is the creator of special inks that cause tattoos to change color before stimuli from the environment in which they are found, such as, for example, the sun’s rays.

It uses neuroscience to invent new materials and technologies, which aim to change the planet in which we live. In his TEDxMileHigh talk he talks about how tattoos can help you lead a healthy life.

Ötzi is the oldest mummy with preserved preserved skin. It dates from 5,300 years ago, that is, it is prior to the Egyptian pyramids. His skin is covered with more than 60 black tattoos and, after several studies, scientists believe they could be used for some type of acupuncture-like therapy.

The tattoos are made of soot (that black coal that remains in the chimneys), both those of Ötzi and those that we wear today. So a tattoo has been the same for more than 5,000 years: a group of tiny soot particles that are trapped under the dermis. In other words, during all these years, tattoo technology has only advanced to add more colors and more efficient installation methods, wasting other opportunities.

Carson Bruns realized this and it was, then, when he wondered how he could improve the world of tattooing through his field of work, nanotechnology. Thus, he realized that tattoos could give human beings super powers.

No, sorry, flying is still not possible. When Carson talks about having supernatural powers, he means giving us the possibility of seeing ultraviolet light. That is, that part of sunlight invisible to the eyes of the human being, which causes burns and increases the risk of skin cancer.

“We know we can’t see it because if we could we would see the sunscreen when applied to our skin. It is invisible to the eyes and not applying it when necessary is the main reason why more than five million cases of preventable skin cancer are treated each year in the United States alone. ”, Comments Carson in his TED talk.

Given these worrisome data, he got down to work and, together with his team, created an ink sensitive to these rays that changes color when energy impacts on it. “When it was time to try this tattoo ink, I thought it was better not to torture my poor grade students, so I decided to tattoo a couple of points on my own arm. I call these tattoos solar freckles because they are fed by the sun. They are invisible, but as soon as I expose them to ultraviolet light, which acts like the Sun, they appear as blue spots. ”

When using sunscreen, tattoos would not appear until it was necessary to cream again

In this way, the ink acts as a real-time indicator of exposure to ultraviolet light. The main objective of Carson is to solve the great problem of dermal protection. At this point, we wonder if this is really possible. To do this, we speak with Adrián Alegre Sánchez, a specialist in Medical-Surgical Dermatology at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid.

Adrián affirms that, in fact, in the last decades the incidence rate of skin cancer has been increasing and concludes: “A large percentage of skin cancer cases can be prevented by avoiding exposure to ultraviolet radiation (solar or tanning centers) and This is the main risk factor for the development of skin cancer. The proposal of Carson Bruns is more aimed at raising awareness about sun protection and the correct application of photoprotectors, ”he reflects.

There are already wearables that indicate the level of radiation a body receives

Adrián explains that Spain is not yet working with this type of ink, but there are smart bracelets that indicate the UV radiation index. With this information you can adjust the level of sun protection, which is very reminiscent of the tattoos proposed by Carson Bruns.

Both agree on the importance of using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. The main drawback of this type of ink is that it is not yet known whether it can be harmful to health, since it has not been able to prove enough. In addition, it involves an investment greater than the ink that is commonly used.

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