Skip to main content

Tanning Beds: A New Addiction??

According to NY researchers, Catherine Mosher and Sharon Danoff-Burg, it might be time for a new 12-step program. Their study of 421 college students (created to identify drug and alcohol addiction and adjusted to include tanning bed questions) shows that two of every five students could be identified as “addicted to tanning” based on their answers. The research was published in the Archives of Dermatology Journal.

The recently approved Health Care Bill added a 10% tanning tax to protect tanning bed fans from skin cancer, thus lowering health care costs. It appears that money might all go to addiction treatment for those who can’t seem to say no to tanning. According to the research, the students addicted to tanning were also more likely to be addicted to alcohol, weed and other drugs. They also correlated with high anxiety levels.

“In addition to appearance enhancement, motivations [for tanning] include relaxation, improved mood, and socialization,” the researchers concluded, before suggesting that indoor-tanning addicts would benefit from mood-disorder treatment in order to kick their bronzing habits.

Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, told the UK’s Daily Mail that previous research suggests that “feel-good” chemicals released in response to sunlight might explain why tanning has become addictive for some.

Not everyone is a fan of the research, of course. Gary Lipman, chairman of The Sunbed Association, thinks the idea of tanning addicts is ridiculous.  Lipman’s response to the study? “There are so many flaws I am surprised it was published,” Lipman told the Daily Mail about the study. “Fifteen questions were asked and if an individual answered ‘yes’ to more than three, they were defined as an addict. To try and use these figures to determine a link between sun bed use and substance addiction is scraping the barrel.”

You can decide all of this on your own, of course, but if you find that you (or a loved one) just can’t seem to kick the tanning-bed habit, you might want to consider your level of devotion. Is it addiction?

Recent studies show that tanning beds are no safer than tanning outdoors, and may actually be worse. One study shows tanning beds have a threefold increase in risk for skin cancer!

To your health & wellness,

Dr. Martin O’Toole