Daily, new and curious addictive behaviors seem to be cropping up….people are manifesting signs of strange and addictive actions in many forms. Addiction can play out in several ways and tanning addiction is just one of the many addictive practices coming to light. In 2005, a published study conducted by a group of dermatologists suggested that frequent tanners can undergo a loss of control concerning their tanning schedules, as well as display patterns of addiction similar to tobacco smokers, alcoholics, and drug addicts.
“Tanorexia” is a condition in which those involved in the addiction excessively participate in sun tanning outdoors or excessive use of any other tanning methods, i.e. tanning beds and spray tanning in order to achieve a darker complexion due to the fact that they may perceive themselves to be unsatisfactorily pale in skin color. Could you ever imagine that an addiction to tanning was somehow linked to alcoholism? New research explains just that; apparently areas of the brain of those individuals who claim addiction to tanning display in a very similar fashion to those who have addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Scientifically what seems to be occurring is that the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) may transfer rewarding properties very much beyond the assumed cosmetic benefits that tanning generates. According to a study done (research article was published in April of 2011 by the authors in Addiction Biology/Society for the Study of Addiction) using a single –photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scanner, scientists had the ability to derive visual evidence of the rewarding effects of UVR by measuring brain activity through observation of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Per the Addiction Biology article “seven frequent salon bed tanners were placed under a UVA/UVB tanning light during two sessions; one session with UVR and the other with filtered UVR (sham UVR). Sessions order was randomized and subjects were blinded to study order. During the UVR session, relative to sham UVR session, subjects demonstrated a relative increase in rCBF of the dorsal striatum, anterior insula and medial orbitofrontal cortex”. Basically the regions of the brain linked with experiencing pleasure or reward were receiving a “pay-off” while exposed to the unfiltered UVR; this displayed activity mimics the exact same activity that develops in addicts. The evidence is motive for further compelling an individual to seek out excessive tanning even though they can be subject to harmful consequences.
Medical News Today has quoted Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan and author of “An Anatomy of Addiction” as stating “I think that anything that gives us pleasure and stimulates the limbic system of the brain has the potential to be addictive in the sense that we do it to excess.”
Those people under the age of thirty who use a tanning bed 10 times a year have a greater risk for malignant melanoma. Every year up to 70,000 individuals are stricken with the most lethal of s kin cancers, melanoma. At least 9,000 of those stricken will end up losing their lives.