Why do 30 million Americans a year continue to tan indoors in UV beds and booths with all the warnings about skin cancer?
A new report in the journal Addiction Biology reveals that UV light actually stimulates parts of the brain that play a role in addiction.
“What the researchers found was that several parts of the brain that play a role in addiction were activated when the subjects were exposed to UV rays. The findings, which appear in the coming issue of the journal Addiction Biology, may help explain why some people continue to tan often despite awareness about risks such as skin cancer, premature aging and wrinkles.”
“What this shows is that the brain is in fact responding to UV light, and it responds in areas that are associated with reward,” said Dr. Bryon Adinoff, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and an author of the study. “These are areas, particularly the striatum, that we see activated when someone is administered a drug or a high-value food like sugar…”
“Dr. Adinoff said the research suggests that some people appear addicted to tanning, a finding bolstered by the fact that many longtime tanners have a difficult time stopping or even just cutting back on tanning sessions. He said the research was inspired by a colleague, based on her experiences with dermatology patients.”
“ ‘She approached me because of her concern about young adults who were coming to see her with these beautiful bronze tans,’ he said. ‘And she would cut out skin cancers, and they would immediately go back to tanning.’ ”
Doctors treat seasonal depression in some people by exposing them to sun lamps. It kind of makes sense that the UV rays trigger something in our brains that make people feel good. And I guess addiction isn’t too far behind if we want to feel that way all the time.
Are you surprised that the UV rays stimulate brain chemistry? Does it surprise you that it affects the reward/addiction areas? Does that makes sense to you why some people don’t stop tanning despite the risks? Do you know anyone that seems “addicted” to tanning?