An orange-looking girl with no tan lines desperate for her next session in a tanning booth might exhibit similar behaviors to a crackhead looking for his next hit. Yes, science suggests that indoor tanning could become addictive just like drugs and alcohol.
Researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the University at Albany recruited 421 college students in 2006, about 229 of whom used indoor tanning. On average, tanning bed users hit up the booths about 23 times a year, and more than a third of them exhibited addictive behavior. The study also shows tanning bed addicts are more likely to abuse alchohol, marijuana, and other drugs, and are more likely to have anxiety.
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"If, for some people, tanning is a way to cope with emotions, then there are obviously healthier ways to do so than going to tanning salons every week," study co-author Catherine E. Moshe tells Business Week.
"The hallmark of [addiction] is that people lose control over use of the substance which is manifested by using way more than you plan to use, spending much more time than they usually will spend on using the substance [and] neglecting their jobs, their families despite knowing that the use is going to hurt them," says Dr. Ihsan Salloum, a specialist on addiction at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.