Addicted to The Sun

Ever known someone who just can't get enough of tanning, even though they have access to all the facts on how bad it can be for your skin and health? A newly published study says that there really is an addictive component to the tanning process, and it has to do with the endorphin release and resulting sensation of pleasure from exposure to UV light. University of Washington college students were surveyed by researchers with a list of questions that are commonly used to determine whether or not someone has an alcohol related disorder. In addition to the usual questions, the study authors also asked the following more tan-specific questions: -- "Have you ever felt you ought to cut down on your tanning?" -- "Have people annoyed you by criticizing your tanning?" -- "Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your tanning?" -- "Have you ever thought about tanning first thing in the morning?" The results: 12% of the total sample of 385 students tested positive for substance-related disorder (SRD) with regard to UV light. Additionally, far more of the subjects who reported using indoor tanning services tested positive for SRD to UV than those who tan outside only. The researchers also state that the numbers found are similar to rates of addiction by college students to alcohol and cigarettes. Incredibly, even students who reported a family history of skin cancer -- a well known risk factor for developing skin cancer -- "significantly more likely to engage in tanning" than students without a known family history. The study authors suggest their findings help explain why simple education on the facts of sun-worshipping and skin cancer isn't enough to change people's tanning behavior. They recommend their conclusions be used to argue for more strict regulations on the tanning industry. The study was published in the March 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
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