(Health Secrets) Using tanning beds can be highly addictive, and could be linked with other addictive behavior, according to the initial findings of a New York based study.
Despite increased warnings about the potential health risks of tanning beds, a staggering number of young people continue to use them, and the research suggests that one in three of them may be addicted.
What does the study show?
The study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, was carried out by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. They studied 421 college students, 229 of which were tanning bed users.
The average number of times each student had used a tanning bed in the past year was twenty three, meaning that many were using tanning beds more than twice a month.
The students were asked to fill in a questionnaire to identify addictive behavior, such as feelings of guilt about using tanning beds, and being unable to stop or reduce their tanning bed use even though they wanted to.
Depending on the definition used to classify addiction, between 30 and 40% of these students were found to be addicted to tanning bed use.
It was also seen that these students were more likely to drink alcohol or use drugs and show signs of anxiety, prompting calls for tanning bed users to be screened for other addictive behavior or depression. Tackling underlying issues may be the best way to cure tanning bed addiction along with a number of other addictions.
What are the risks of using tanning beds?
Over exposure to ultra violet light is one of the main causes of skin cancer, and tanning beds work by exposing the skin to UVA rays that penetrate deep into the skin. Here are some of the key facts about tanning beds and skin cancer:
- Tanning bed use is definitively carcinogenic to humans, and is described as being as dangerous as smoking or exposure to asbestos.
- The risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, increases 75% in people who regularly use tanning beds before the age of 30.
- Using tanning beds significantly increases the risk of melanoma of the eye.
- Cases of skin cancer have increased four fold over the last 30 years, with 15 in every 100,000 people being diagnosed with the condition.
As well as skin cancer, there are various other health issues related to the use of tanning beds. Regular use of tanning beds can lead to structural damage to the skin, recognizable by wrinkles and a loss of elasticity, commonly seen as signs of aging. Excessive UV exposure can also suppress the immune system, leading to an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases and cancer.
Are there natural ways to achieve a healthy tan?
A certain level of exposure to sunlight and UV rays is necessary for our bodies to produce Vitamin D, a hormone that helps prevent common infections such as influenza by boosting the immune system. Vitamin D can also help to prevent bone softening diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
However, sun exposure should be limited to avoid burning, a sign of too much UV ray exposure. To get a tan from the sun, start with short exposures and build up gradually.
If you feel you must have a fake tan, look for one that has been certified as organic; after all you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. Avoiding chemical toxins such as parabens will ensure your skin isn’t suffering chemical damage long after the tan has faded.