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Tattooed people drink more, says new study

People with tattoos drink more than their tattoo-less peers, a new study from France suggests.

The researchers asked nearly 3,000 young men and women as they were exiting bars on a Saturday night if they would take a breathalyzer test. Of those who agreed to take it, the researchers found that people with tattoos had consumed more alcohol than those without tattoos, the researchers said.

Previous studies have shown that tattooed individuals are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, theft, violence and alcohol consumption, compared to people without tattoos.

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.

However, doctors should not stereotype individuals with tattoos as heavy drinkers, the researchers cautioned.

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, Professor Emerita at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement.

Previous studies have also shown those with only one tattoo have similar alcohol consumption habits as those with no tattoos, while those with seven or more tattoos are more likely to fall into the "high risk" group, Armstrong said.

The study is published in the July issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.