Indoor tanning 'can be addictive'

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Washington, April 20 (ANI): Indoor tanning may be an addictive behaviour, and people who are hooked on tanning beds may also be prone to anxiety and substance abuse problems, says a new study.

"Despite ongoing efforts to educate the public about the health risks associated with natural and non-solar UV radiation, recreational tanning continues to increase among young adults," the authors said.

"In addition to the desire for appearance enhancement, motivations for tanning include relaxation, improved mood and socialization," they added.

Given these reinforcements, repeated exposure to UV light may result in behavior patterns similar to those observed with substance-related disorders, the authors found.

For the study, Catherine E. Mosher, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and Sharon Danoff-Burg, of University at Albany, State University of New York, in 2006 recruited 421 college students.

Two written questionnaires typically used to screen for alcohol abuse or substance-related disorders were modified to evaluate students for addiction to indoor tanning.

Participants were also assessed using standardized measures of anxiety, depression and substance use.

Among 229 participants who had used indoor tanning facilities, the average number of visits during the past year was 23. A total of 90 (39.3 percent) met criteria for tanning addiction on one measure and 70 (30.6 percent) met criteria on the other measure.

Students who did meet these criteria were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and use of alcohol, marijuana and other substances than those who did not meet these criteria.

"If associations between affective factors and indoor tanning behavior are replicated, results suggest that treating an underlying mood disorder may be a necessary step in reducing skin cancer risk among those who frequently tan indoors," the authors said.

The study has been reported in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)

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