Can you become addicted to tanning beds?

Using tanning salons could be addictive in a similar way to alcohol or drugs, a study has suggested...

People who frequently use indoor tanning facilities may suffer addictive behaviour, according to a report in the journal Archives of Dermatology.

They are also likely to be more prone to anxiety symptoms and alcohol and drug use, said Dr Catherine Mosher, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, and Dr Sharon Danoff-Burg, of University at Albany, State University of New York.
 
Their survey of 421 college students revealed that among the 229 participants who had used indoor tanning facilities, the average number of visits during the past year was 23. More than a third (39.3 per cent) met criteria for tanning addiction.

Dr Mosher said: ‘Despite ongoing efforts to educate the public about the health risks associated with natural and non-solar UV radiation, recreational tanning continues to increase among young adults. In addition to the desire for appearance enhancement, motivations for tanning include relaxation and improved mood.’
 
A bill to ban sunbeds for under-18s was recently passed by the House of Lords. Cancer Research UK had been among those campaigning for a ban for under-18s after a study showed some 250,000 11-to-17-year-olds in England are risking skin cancer by using sunbeds.

John Overstreet, a spokesperson for the Indoor Tanning Association, dismissed the idea that excessive tanning should be called an addiction.

‘They’re labelling this as an addiction to attract your attention, the media’s attention, but whether it is useful science, I think the jury is very much out on it,’ he told Reuters Health.

The tanning industry, he said, preaches moderation when it comes to the use of tanning devices. ‘There is one thing we all agree on, that you’ve got to avoid burning and avoid overexposure,’ he said.

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