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Study: Indoor tanning can be addicting; withdrawal from 'UV high'

Study: Indoor tanning can be addicting; withdrawal from 'UV high'

Posting in Cancer

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center researchers found that indoor tanning can addicting, in the same way alcohol and other substance abuse is. To reduce the risk of skin cancer, an intervention might be necessary to change these frequent indoor tanners' behavior before it's too late.

I definitely was a tan-o-holic when I went to college.

To be fair, in Florida it seemed like a normal habit to study poolside instead of inside at the library. Fortunately, I never got into the indoor tanning thing — especially now that scientists have found indoor tanning to be quite addicting.

Catherin Mosher of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center found that indoor tanners can become addicted to getting a UV high. This backs previous research that showed both outdoor and indoor tanners alike could become addicted to UV rays and experience withdrawal symptoms, Live Science reported.

In this study, Mosher found that UV-light from tanning beds can hook people by making them feel better. When chemicals are released in their brain, they get a UV high.

The findings in the study are based on the habits of 421 undergraduate students in the Northeastern United States. The researchers tweaked substance abuse surveys:

  • CAGE measure: "Do you try to cut down on the time you spend in tanning beds or booths, but find yourself still tanning?"
  • DSM measure: "Have you ever missed any scheduled activity )social, occupation, or recreational activities) because you decided to use tanning beds or booths?"

According to Live Science, the results are:

  • 56 percent admitted to indoor tanning. Average visit was 23 times a year.
  • 70 percent were considered addicted [via CAGE measure].
  • 90 percent were addicted [via DSM measure].
  • And 42 percent admitted to dabbling in other abusive substances recently.

Needless to say, a skin cancer warning might not suffice. To really stop their bad sun habits, the sun lovers might require an intervention, the same way alcoholics do. And perhaps, obsessive tanners should seek treatment for the mood disorder, rather than getting a quick fix from the sun.

However, this doesn't mean hide from the sun entirely.

Sunbathing should be done in moderation. There's growing evidence that it's important to maintain your vitamin D levels. For instance, the crappy English weather can make men vitamin D deficient and therefore make them more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Also, The Huffington Post gave 10 good reasons why people should be tested for vitamin D. Our indoor lifestyle makes it easy to become vitamin D deficient and become more prone to diseases like cancer, depression, and diabetes. Seriously after reading the long list, you will probably want to rip your shirt off and get your 15 minutes of sun.

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure