In a fascinating new study, dermatologists in Seattle have discovered that it may be possible for people to become addicted to ultraviolet (UV) light and that the addiction may be a Ã¢â‚¬Å“substance-related disorderÃ¢â‚¬Â similar in nature to drug and alcohol addiction. The results of their study have been published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Numerous studies have shown that increased knowledge of the dangers of overexposure to UV light often fails to change tanning behavior and attitudes, especially among high-risk age groups such as adolescents and young adults,Ã¢â‚¬Â explained Dr. Robin Hornung, the studyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lead author. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We also know from previous experiments that UV light causes endorphin release, similar to the euphoric sensation associated with intense exercise commonly referred to as Ã¢â‚¬ËœrunnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s highÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ or other pleasure-seeking behavior. Our study set out to find whether certain individuals, particularly those who classify themselves as frequent tanners, exhibit addictive behaviors toward tanning.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Researchers used the CAGE questionnaire as the basis for their findings; the CAGE tool is regularly used to determine substance-related disorders associated with alcohol use. The tanning-addiction problem seems to be worse for women and for those who frequent indoor tanning facilities.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If tanning is addictive as our study suggests, it helps explain why education alone will probably not stop high-risk tanning behavior similar to how the Ã¢â‚¬ËœdonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t drinkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœdonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t smokeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ messages often fail to change behaviors,Ã¢â‚¬Â Dr. Hornung added.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The fact that tanning may be addictive for some individuals should strengthen the argument for stricter regulations on the indoor tanning industry,Ã¢â‚¬Â Dr. Hornung said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Education alone is not enough to stop high-risk tanning behavior, and skin cancer rates will continue to increase markedly without proper intervention.Ã¢â‚¬Â