The Rush of the Tanning Bed
Do you feel a rush when you get a tan? Do you feel anxious when you don’t? If you need a tanning booth fix, those could be warning signs that you are addicted to tanning.
According to a report in the Archives of Dermatology, among 229 study participants who used indoor tanning facilities within the past year, averaging 23 visits, 90 (39.3 percent) met DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria and 70 (30.6 percent) met CAGE (Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-opener) criteria for addiction to indoor tanning.
Students who met the criteria for addiction to indoor tanning reported greater symptoms of anxiety and greater use of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances than those who did not meet these criteria. Depressive symptoms did not significantly vary by indoor tanning addiction status.
The study was undertaken to assess the prevalence of addiction to indoor tanning among college students, and its association with substance use and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Indeed, in addition to tanning of the skin, people were also looking for relaxation and improved mood, benefits that may lead to perceived dependency on indoor tanning. Researchers suspect that the habit of tanning could be exacerbated by social circle, especially for teens, the group most likely to frequent tanning booths.
Further research is needed to prove the theory behind this study. As an article in Reuters Health points out, the study shows a connection between tanning and factors like anxiety and substance use, suggesting a subgroup of individuals who are both addicted to indoor tanning and have an underlying mood disturbance. It does not prove if one of these behaviors leads to the other.
The Indoor Tanning Association estimates that about 10 percent of the American public visits an indoor tanning facility each year. The tanning industry was already taking heat from health organizations warning about skin cancer, and an FDA advisory panel recently recommended that the FDA keep children and teens from using tanning booths, or to have parental consent in order to do so.
The recently passed Patient Affordable Health Care Act dealt another strong blow with a 10 percent tax on individuals using indoor tanning services. The tax is expected to generate $2.7 billion over ten years.
This is not the first study that points toward the addictive qualities of the tanning experience, and health warnings abound. It is not likely to have much of an impact on those intent on obtaining the perfect tan, especially the ‘invincible’ young.
We’ve been duly warned. The rest is individual choice.