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  Body piercing brings health risks

 Body piercing in places other than the ear often leads to complications such as infections, inflammation and bleeding, a new study shows.

The data, collected in the UK by the Agency for Health Protection and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, showed that 25 percent of body piercing in areas other than the earlobe lead to complications, with one of every 100 piercing resulting in a hospital admission. More than 10000 people aged 16 and older participated in the survey, which was published on the Internet today by the British Medical Journal. A 2002 study for students of americas also reported a high rate of complications, with 17 percent of students complained of problems, including bleeding and infection. Piercing the nipple appears to be the most risky, with a 21 percent rate of bleeding or injury.

About 10 percent of the adult population of Great Britain has a non-earlobe body piercing. Estimates of prevalence in the United States are harder to find, but the 2002 report, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that 51 percent of college students surveyed had some kind of piercing, not counting pierced earlobes among women .

In this study, 38 percent of male students had pierced ears, whether in the lobe or elsewhere, while 4 percent had crossed the languages and 3 percent had pierced nipples. Among female students, pierced earlobes were not counted, but 29 percent had piercings elsewhere in their ears. Another 16 percent has crossed the languages, 6 percent had pierced nipples and 32 percent had pierced navels.

In the British study, 16 years old with piercing were also more likely to suffer complications, with almost one third reporting problems and 15 percent seeking professional help. While most piercings are performed in specialty shops piercing researchers noted that a "worrying" 9 per cent of tongue piercing were made by those who do not. In each anatomical site, including the tongue and genital areas, the study's authors said they found a number of people who had carried out drilling or what it had done for a friend or relative.

The most common problems with piercings are swelling, infection and bleeding. Nearly half of the tongue piercing led to complications in the British poll.

The growing popularity of body piercing could "place a significant burden on health services for many years," he told investigators.

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