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Tattoos Linked to Boozing More

Those who ink more also drink more, say French researchers.


People who get tattoos drink more booze.
And vice versa. Photo via

By May Wilkerson


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"Tramp stamps," tiger-clad-biceps and other tattoo art may be indicators of substance abuse, according to a new study from France. Researchers asked nearly 3,000 young men and women exiting bars on a Saturday night if they'd take a breathalyzer—of those who complied, people with body art were found to have consumed more alcohol than their unadorned brethren. "A host of previous studies have routinely shown that individuals with body piercings or tattoos are more likely to engage in risky behavior than non-pierced or non-tattooed people," writes Nicolas Gueguen, a professor of social behavior at the University of Southern Brittany. This "risky behavior" includes fighting, unprotected sex, as well as boozing. Gueguen suggests that tattoos and piercings may serve as "markers" for doctors and parents, opening up a discussion on potentially harmful correlating behaviors. Texas Tech University School of Nursing professor Myrna Armstrong conducted a study in 2009 that also showed a link between the number of tattoos and the likelihood of abusing substances. Those with one or two tattoos were only as likely to drink or act out as people with none at all, but people with seven or more tattoos or piercings were more likely to engage in "high risk" behaviors. Regardless, we shouldn't make assumptions about people based on their body art, say researchers. Armstrong is concerned about "the tendency to see a tattoo or piercing and automatically profile or stereotype that individual as a 'high-risk person' as this may or may not be conducive for helping them."

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