As someone with the complexion of a vampire, I have never been in a tanning booth. I eschew base tans and head to the beach armed with SPF 55 and an umbrella. But for many men and women, tanning in a booth is a weekly (or even daily) event. For some, indoor tanning might be more than a simple indulgence; new research shows that indoor tanning can be addictive.
Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and SUNY Albany asked 421 undergraduate students about their tanning practices. Catherine Mosher of Sloan-Kettering gave the students surveys, modified from those traditional presented to drug addicts and alcoholics.
The undergrads answered questions ranging from "When you wake up in the morning, do you want to use a tanning bed or booth?" to "Have you ever missed any scheduled activity (social, occupational or recreational) because you decided to use tanning beds or booths?" Then the students rated their levels of depression and anxiety.
More than half the participants said they used tanning beds and of those students, about 35 percent qualified as being addicted. Even though these frequent tanners knew that tanning beds were potentially cancer causing, they did not care and confessed they pursue tans despite the risks. Of the tanaddicts, 78 percent reported trying to cut down on tanning but failed. The addicts felt twice as anxious than those who were casual users and the tanaddicts were also more likely to have used alcohol or pot within the previous month.
"Both tanning indoors and the use of substances are thought of as a way to regulate emotions, or cope with distressing emotions," Mosher told Time.com.