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Tanning Bed Use Might Become Addictive
Date:4/19/2010

Many hard-core tanners met typical addiction criteria, study found

MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Can indoor tanning be addictive?

According to new research, the answer is "yes," with a proportion of people who repeatedly bask under sun lamps meeting standard criteria for addiction, while also reporting higher levels of anxiety and substance use.

And if this really is the case, addiction treatments might actually help prevent skin cancer, experts say.

"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," said study co-author Catherine E. Mosher, a postdoctoral research fellow in department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City. "Counseling could be a logical intervention for these people who have excessive visits to tanning salons."

She and co-author Sharon Danoff-Burg, of the University at Albany, State University of New York, published the findings in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Skin cancer is the most common malignancy, accounting for about half of all human cancers, Mosher said, and about 90 percent of all skin cancers are due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The disease can be disfiguring and sometimes fatal.

The risks of indoor tanning are concerning enough that U.S. health advisors in March recommended a potential ban -- or at least stronger label warnings -- on the use of tanning beds by people under the age of 18.

While other studies have also reported an addictive potential in tanning, none have focused specifically on indoor tanning, as this study does.

As part of their research, the study authors modified two standard measures of addiction to fit the context. Then, 421 students at SUNY Albany were asked to fill out questionnaires about their indoor tanning habits,
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