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Is Tanning Addictive?

By now, we all ought to be aware that making like Tater Tots and browning ourselves, whether the natural way or on tanning beds, isn’t a recipe for optimal health. So why do some people still do it, sometimes to excess? Turns out aesthetics may not fully explain the tanning phenomenon. –KA

Los Angeles Times:

As many as a third of young people who use indoor tanning facilities may be addicted to the behavior, researchers reported Monday. The findings are the latest to suggest that tanning, whether natural or indoors, activates the same parts of the brain triggered by drug dependence.

The study screened college students using two standard questionnaires designed to assess addiction and modified to assess tanning behavior. Among 229 people who said they had used indoor tanning facilities in the past, 39% met one measure’s criteria for addiction; 30% met the other measure’s criteria.

The tanners were aware that repeated exposure to ultraviolet light, either indoors or outside, increases the risk of several types of skin cancer, including the most dangerous type, melanoma, said the study’s lead author, Catherine E. Mosher, a post-doctoral research fellow in psychiatry and behavioral science at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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