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Don't trust study that finds people with tattoos drink more

Researchers in France say people with tattoos drink more than those who don’t, and now American newspapers are trying to tell the public this is a fact and happening in the U.S., too. Coming from someone who has a tattoo, these results are outrageous.

Researchers from the Universite de Bretagne-Sud, in Morbihan, France, went to 21 bars on four Saturday nights, in Brittany, France, and asked roughly 3,000 people as they were exiting if they could Breathalyze them. Out of those who agreed, apparently the people with tattoos had consumed more alcohol than those without. The study “found women with both tattoos and piercings had consumed twice the amount of alcohol than women who had neither,” according to an article in Britain’s Daily Mail. “Meanwhile men with both tattoos and piercing drank 44 percent more than men who had neither.”

There are a few possibilities as to how these results might not be accurate. One possibility may be because a lot of bars attract certain clientele, such as bikers or rockers, who often have multiple tattoos. So frequenting places like that would skew the data. After all, what type of people are in Brittany? Were there any holidays or reasons that bar-goers might have been consuming more than they usually do? Is a biker crew’s bachelor party being compared to a college poetry club?

To add on to the ridiculousness of this study, a Huffington Post article on the subject says, “The researchers suggest educators, parents and physicians consider tattoos and piercings as potential ‘markers’ of drinking, using them to begin a conversation about alcohol consumption and other risky behaviors.”

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However, other scientists agree that assuming a person with a tattoo is inevitably going to start drinking is ludicrous.

“Clinicians should spend time ‘talking to them about safe tattooing, etc., and alcohol in general … not because they have tattoos or piercings but because they are in a high-risk age group,” Myrna Armstrong, a professor emerita at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, told the MyHealthNewsDaily.com staff about tattoos and drinking in today’s youth.

Half of 18-to 29-year-olds have tattoos, according to an article on The Boston Channel. So does this indicate that half of today’s society is drinking twice as much as the other half? No. The study does not prove that a tattoo defines one’s behavior.

Maybe 50 years ago tattoos were seen as rebellious or dangerous, but if more than half the country has tattoos, it’s safe to say it’s the norm now. In today’s society, tattoos are simply ways for people to express themselves.

My tattoo memorializes a favorite family member who passed away and doesn’t reflect risky behavior. Researchers should stop trying to perpetuate the stereotype that tattoos are only for people who make bad decisions.

Cody Stewart, a bartender at Sam Hughes Place Championship Dining, said, in her experience, she hasn’t seen a correlation between tattoos and more drinking.

“My best friend is covered with tattoos everywhere, and drinks way less than I do,” Stewart said. “Maybe people who already drink get tattoos, but doesn’t mean those with tattoos drink more than those without.”

Until this research is conducted internationally, for more than one year’s worth of data and with more subjects, these results are flimsy at best.

— Danielle Carpenter is a pre-journalism freshman. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .


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