Evidence Tanning Is Addictive

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If people know that excessive exposure to UV rays causes cancer, why do they still insist on grilling themselves? Health psychologists would love to know the answer so they could help curb the growing rates of skin cancer. The obvious answer is that people think that tanned skin makes them look more attractive, but this is not the whole story.

Research has suggested that UV rays provide a relaxing effect through an endorphin rush. Building on this, new research asks whether tanning might actually be addictive. In questioning 145 beachgoers in the US, researchers used models only slightly modified from those used to describe substance-related disorders like drug addiction.

The study’s authors argue that thinking of tanning as a form of addiction may help to design better ways of discouraging excessive tanning.

About the author

Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog and HealthiestBlog.com. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 27 August 2005

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