If you've been on the fence about getting another tattoo, let this new research convince you to finally make your way to the parlor.
According to research published in the American Journal of Human Biology, tattoos—and multiple tattoos, in fact—can strengthen your immune system, helping fight off common colds, and improving immunological responses.
The first tattoo, notes Christopher Lynn, PhD, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, may initially lower your resistance to colds and common infections, but the second, third (or more) can actually help build up a tolerance.
"After the stress response, your body returns to an equilibrium," Lynn said. "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."
To complete the experiment, researchers collected the saliva of people before and after they got inked and noted how many tattoos each individual participant currently sported. They then studied the levels of immunoglobulin A (an antibody that's present in the mucous linings of membranes in your respiratory system) and cortisol (the reactive stress hormone) and found that people who had already had tattoos had a smaller release of immunoglobulin A, showing that their bodies had adapted and gotten stronger over time.
"Another explanation, which is not mutually exclusive, is that people with higher tattoo experience might also display reduced [immunoglobulin A,] suppression after tattooing, similar to elite athletes who habituate to moderate and high intensity exercise stress over time," the authors explain in their study. In other words, the more you work out, the more conditioned your body is for the workout, and the stronger it gets.
The same, it seems, goes for tattoos. So, go ahead, get that next ink.