Indoor Tanning Can Become An Addiction

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New research has found that some frequent indoor tanners meet standard measures of addiction.

The Study

A new study, published in this month's issue of Archives of Dermatology, evaluated the indoor tanning habits, substance use, and anxiety or depression of 421 students at SUNY Albany. The researchers administered modified versions of two standard measures of addiction, addressing issues like whether the student had unsuccessfully tried to cut down on indoor tanning sessions, irritation when people suggested they stop, guilt about the behavior, and whether or not they thought about indoor tanning excessively. 30% to 40% of the surveyed students met the criteria for addiction to indoor tanning.

Students who met addiction criteria for indoor tanning also had about twice the level of anxiety and reported greater use of alcohol and illicit substances.

Why Is This Important?

Indoor tanning raises a person's risk for skin cancer, a disease that accounts for about half of all cancer cases. UV radiation, which is experienced when tanning, causes about 90% of skin cancer cases.

All the students considered addicted to tanning reported knowing the health risks associated with the behavior, but they were still unable to stop. This study suggests that addiction treatments may be an effective way for tanning addicts to cut down or stop the unhealthy behavior.

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