Lifestyle & Belief

Indoor tanning is an addiction, study says


A study shows tanning beds can be physically addictive.

Don’t blame Snooki for her orange skin-- blame her addiction.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found that people who use tanning beds may be spurred by an addictive neurological reward-and-reinforcement trigger. Basically, once you’ve used a tanning bed a few times, it’s not your fault you want to go back.

The pilot study found that brain activity and corresponding blood flow tracked together in the study are similar to that seen in people addicted to drugs and alcohol. The study also shows that habitual tanners needing a fix won’t be satisfied without a big dose of UV radiation, the New York Daily News reported.

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“Using tanning beds has rewarding effects in the brain so people may feel compelled to persist in the behavior even though it’s bad for them,” said Dr. Bryon Adinoff, professor of psychiatry, connected to UT Southwestern’s study. “The implication is, ‘If it’s rewarding, then could it also be addictive?’ It’s an important question in the field.”

First reported by The New York Times, this is not the first time indoor tanning has been called an addiction. This study explains why people, such as the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore, infamous for their tanning booth time, continue to tan despite the fact that UV rays are linked to skin cancer and premature aging.

The Archives of Dermatology performed a study, testing 421 college students, 229 who used tanning beds, in 2010, The Times reported. According to the study, 31 to 39 percent of the students met the criteria of addicts, reporting greater symptoms of anxiety and greater use of alcohol and drugs.

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This must explain why poor Snooki, after a session in the tanning bed, is on the dance floor, drink in one hand, fist pumping with the other.

But some states are trying to regulate tanning beds. On Nov. 1, Pennsylvania state senators voted, 48-1, to require facilities to get a license from the state that includes registration of tanning devises, the Associated Press reported. The law also requires tanning salons to post signs advising customers of risks, specifically of UV radiation and skin damage. The bill will go to the House for consideration, AP reported.