I recently read an article from the NY Times about a possible change in the brain that tanning can cause. Scientists are saying that the radiation that one is exposed to during a normal tanning session can become addictive. I found this article extremely interesting because, according to the article, more than 300 million Americans use indoor tanning every year, even though they are well aware of the consequences.
“People who frequently use tanning beds experience changes in brain activity during their tanning sessions that mimic the patterns of drug addiction, new research shows.”
The article can be accessed here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/how-tanning-changes-the-brain/
The study conducted by Dr. Byron Adinoff tested users brain activity during normal tanning sessions and other sessions when he had blocked only the UV rays, without telling those tanning. Results showed tanners weren’t as satisfied with their tanning sessions when the UV waves had been blocked. The tanners somehow knew that their tanning session wasn’t as successful when they hadn’t been exposed to UV rays.
A study in 2005 did show that a large proportion of sunbathers met the psychiatric definition of a substance abuse disorder, based on their answers to a variation of a test often used to help diagnose alcohol addiction.
Another NY Times article is quoted as saying that 1 in 5 college students, and 70% of indoor tanners are UV abusers.
In addition, California has recently passed a law that bans indoor tanning from anyone under the age of 18, even with parental consent.
I have to be honest. I do participate in indoor tanning throughout the colder months in Michigan because I like to have a little color and have found that tanning helps keep my skin nice. However, I wouldn’t consider tanning an addiction at all. When I am too busy to tan, I don’t tan. I never feel any sort of “need” to go tanning, and I have gone extended periods of time without tanning.
What is your take on these articles and indoor tanning in general? If you currently tan, would you consider it an addiction? Do you think tanning can be compared to a drug or alcohol addiction?