Indoor Tanning Linked to Substance Abuse and Anxiety

A new study discovered that indoor tanning among U.S. college students is linked to addiction, anxiety, and substance use. Georgiann Caruso of CNN writes that researchers polled more than 400 undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 25 in the northeastern U.S, and half of them said they used tanning beds. The participants were asked about their tanning habits as well as their use of alcohol and other substances, and found that people who used tanning beds also tended to drink alcohol and use marijuana. They were also more likely to have anxiety.

The researchers note that being repeatedly exposed to UV light may have results that echo those cited by substance abusers: relaxation, increased socialization, and improved moods. The researchers suggested that those who participate in indoor tanning should be screened for anxiety and depression, writing that treating an underlying mood disorder such as depression may be an important step in reducing the risk of skin cancer among those who regularly use tanning beds.

Dr. Darrell Rigel, former president of the American Academy of Dermatology and currently a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University, agreed, saying that if tanning is an addictive behavior, the issue needs to be brought to light and treated with the same concern as drug and alcohol addiction is treated. “We have to bring in behavioral scientists who are addiction experts to come up with a better plan to deal with this issue,” he said.

Source: CNN, Georgiann Caruso, Indoor Tanning Linked to Addictive Behaviors, April 19, 2010.

Posted on April 18th, 2010

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