Indoor Tanners Resemble Drug Addicts

August 18th, 2011 | General News

“I just love the way it makes me look. It’s addicting!” says a teenage girl when asked why she uses indoor tanning. And even though she may not love the way it will make her look in 30 years, she may not be exaggerating about its addictiveness.

The brain activity of people using tanning beds is similar to that seen in people addicted to drugs and alcohol, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center found in a pilot study.

“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 and senior author of the study.

About 120,000 new cases of melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Sun safety advocates continue to wonder why their message is not being heard despite the overwhelming statistics of how dangerous tanning can be. This study may help organizations target their messages more effectively to warn teens about the dangers of skin cancer.

Rather than focus on the dangers, a new campaign by the Skin Cancer Foundation is focusing on beauty. Addicts know the dangers of their “drug” of choice, but still choose to do it for the rewards. If we can convince teens that tanning will make their skin wrinkle and age quicker, and that they look beautiful just the way they are, they may no longer require their tanning fix.

Tanning is not necessary to look beautiful. You’re already beautiful.


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