When we think of addictions, we tend to think in terms of heroin, poker and Twinkies. Not tanning, right?
But researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that tanning beds frequently may be "spurred by an addictive neurological reward-and-reinforcement trigger". In other words: the same brain patterns were exhibited by tanners as other addictive behaviours, such as smoking and drinking.
This could explain why some women, particularly, continue to use tanning beds despite the increased risk of developing melanoma -- the most lethal form of skin cancer.
"Using tanning beds has rewarding effects in the brain so people may feel compelled to persist in the behaviour even though it's bad for them," said Dr. Bryon Adinoff, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study available online and in a future print edition of Addiction Biology.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, every year around 120,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the U.S. alone. People under 30 who use a tanning bed 10 times a year have eight times' the risk of developing malignant melanoma.
Like smoking, the warnings are there, so why are we still using tanning beds? If you use them, does the 'high' of ultra-violet rays outweigh the inherent risk?