Tanning, because of its association with skin cancer, is a dangerous behavior. A new Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) study out in March is adding a new concern related to tanning. The YSPH study is saying that tanning may also lead to “other addictive behaviors.”

Published in the Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, the study surveyed 499 white, non-Hispanic males, and females who had previously tanned indoors or outdoors. The study revealed, “participants who were tanning dependent were six times as likely to be dependent on alcohol, five times more likely to exhibit ‘exercise addiction,’ and three times as likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).”

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Addiction involves an intense craving for something, and the need to use it supersedes the negative effects or adverse consequences. Addiction is believed to be rooted in a change in the brain structure and function caused over time as the brain goes through a series of changes in response to recognition of pleasure. The brain then seeks this pleasure and creates a drive toward the compulsive behavior that becomes the addiction.

Tanning is dangerous and currently many states are enacting legislation to protect young people. The associated risk between tanning beds and skin cancer is strong. The Melanoma Foundation says tanning “increases the risk of melanoma associated with tanning bed use 59% for people whose first exposure to artificial UV rays in a tanning bed occurred before age 35 years. That risk increases with the number of tanning bed sessions per year. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills one person every 50 minutes.”

Even though tanning beds are known to be dangerous many continue to use them still, and according to the study, the users are exhibiting a dependency to tanning. Researchers say that the connections between tanning dependence and other disorders revealed by the study represent an opportunity for clinicians to address those related conditions.

Yale Study

The Dangers of Tanning

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription.