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More Evidence Tanning Beds May Be Addictive
Date:8/15/2011

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Frequent indoor tanners may exhibit brain changes that are similar to those seen among people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, according to a new study that adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that indoor tanning may be addictive.

Close to 30 million Americans visit indoor tanning salons each year despite the well-publicized risks of skin cancer associated with this practice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now considering a ban on indoor tanning for people under age 18 and the American Academy of Pediatrics is on record that it supports this legislation.

The new findings, released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Addiction Biology, suggest that indoor tanning taps into the brain's "reward center."

"We saw brain changes that are consistent with that of other things that are considered rewarding such as money, food or drugs," explained study author Dr. Bryon Adinoff, a professor of psychiatry at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "The same areas of the brain lit up, and we know that if something is rewarding to the brain, there is the potential for addiction."

The new study involved seven frequent tanners who said they had used tanning beds an average of about 27 of the previous 90 days.

The researchers had each participant use a tanning bed for 10-minute sessions under two conditions: in one session, the tanner was exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, while in the other session special filters blocked such exposure. Volunteers did not know if the tanning session involved UV radiation or not.

Participants were asked before and after each session how much they felt like tanning. They also received an intravenous compound that allowed the researchers to measure brain blood flow during their tanning sessions.

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