Indoor Tanning May Be Addictive

According to the American Journal of Dermatology, more than 30 million people tan indoors every year; nearly three quarters of them are women between the ages of 16 and 29. Now, LifeScience.com is reporting that some tanning habits are considered as an addiction, citing a new study.

Using a tanning bed before the age of 35 increases the risk of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/diseases">melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—by 75 percent. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers among young adults in the United States, and it is on the rise in all age groups. More than three-quarters of all skin cancer-related deaths are from melanoma and about one person dies of melanoma every hour in the US.

The new study found that about one-third of college students who routinely visit indoor tanning salons could be labeled as addicted when considering the criteria used to issue diagnoses for substance abuse addiction, said LifeScience.com. Interestingly, so-called “Tan-O-Holics” also reported increased alcohol and marijuana use, as well as symptoms consistent with anxiety, versus tanners not considered hooked, explained LifeScience.com.

According to LifeScience.com, these findings confirm earlier indications that of sunbathing—outdoors or in a facility—can become habit forming. A study in 2006 also found that those who routinely receive tanning bed tans can undergo withdrawal when they miss their “UV High, said LifeScience.com, adding that a study two years later found some 18-percent of outdoor tanners were considered addictive.

The emerging study, which appears in this month’s Archives of Dermatology, notes that these findings suggest that reducing risky tanning behavior could necessitate interventions such as what are currently used for alcohol and substance abuse, noted LifeScience.com. The findings also point to potential underlying mood disorders in addicted tanners.
Along with the psychological perils associated with indoor tanning, a tanning addiction increases the risk for skin cancer and melanoma, wrote LifeScience.com. Also, the International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a warning last year stating that tanning beds are “carcinogenic to humans,” and that tanners who began the practice prior to age 30 experienced a 75-percent increased risk for skin cancer, said LifeScience.com.

Tanning beds and tanning lamps are listed as Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Class I devices—those devices least likely to cause harm. The FDA is considering reclassifying them as Class II or III medical devices, subjecting them to stricter regulation. Increasing the classification to Class II would enable the FDA to limit the levels of radiation the devices emit and make other changes to their design. Regardless, recreational tanning is on the rise, especially in the young adult demographic, said the researchers.

Study author Catherine Mosher, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and colleagues asked 421 undergraduate students about their tanning habits, modifying two questionnaires typically used to determine substance addiction: CAGE, used to screen for alcohol addiction and questions derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that is used to diagnose substance-related disorders, said LifeScience.com. Some 56 percent of the participants—237 of those surveyed—reportedly tanned indoors and reported about 23 tanning bed visits annually; 70 people—30 percent—met addiction criteria according to the CAGE measure, while 90—39 percent—met DSM criteria, said LifeScience.com. About 42 percent reported use of at least two nonalcoholic substances, such as tobacco or cocaine in the prior month.

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