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Indoor Tanning as Addiction

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Another story about the supposed addictive effects of indoor suntanning.  The question is, under these criteria, what isn't addictive?  From the story:

Among those who scored positive for addiction, 78% said they had tried to cut down on the time spent tanning but couldn't, and 78% said they felt guilty about using tanning beds or booths too much.

Further, 26% said that, when they wake up in the morning, they want to use a tanning bed or booth, and nearly 1 in 4 admitted that they had missed scheduled activities -- social, occupational or recreational -- because they decided to go to a tanning facility.

In the summertime, I really like to indulge in ice-cream.  In fact, I've tried to cut down my consumption of ice-cream during the warmer months, but often fail.  Sometimes, I eat ice-cream when I should be grading exams or spending time at the gym.  What does this say about my relationship with ice-cream? 

"A lot of times, these people don't really want to hear that tanning may be a problem," he said. "I hear this a lot from my skin-cancer patients. They are sort of in denial."

I really don't like to admit to myself that ice-cream adds to my waistline.  And I don't like to acknowledge that it's bad for cholesterol levels.  In fact, I put it out of my mind as best as I can even though I know I shouldn't.

It's unclear how or why tanning can become compulsive, although exposure to UV light triggers production of brain chemicals called endorphins that boost mood. One study, published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that frequent tanners experience some withdrawal symptoms when given naltrexone, a drug that blocks endorphins

When I eat ice-cream, my mood improves.  In fact, when I eat foods like ice-cream, endorphins are released.  And if I was given naltrexone, my desire for foods like ice-cream would be diminished.  What do suntanning and ice-cream have in common? 

"Tanning makes them feel relaxed and calm," said Dr. Steven R. Feldman, a professor of dermatology, pathology and public health sciences at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the senior author of the 2006 study. "People think it's just the warmth that feels good. But there is something that UV light does to people that gives them a sense of relaxation. It's like a small narcotic hit."

Both activities make people feel calm because both likely involve the release of endorphins (aka the "narcotic hit").   But it is pure foolishness to suggest that means such activities - consumption of food or indoor tanning - are addictive.  After all, the "narcotic" produced is endogenous and  part of the natural regulatory state of the body.   And as a matter of common sense, no one is knocking over banks or liquor stores to get money to feed their sun-tanning or ice-cream "habit." 



3 Comments

Psychosprawl strikes again. In the DSM-VIII, we will all have a mental disorder.

This "condition" is already part of the DSM--under narcissistic personality disorder.

This condition is in the DSM--look under narcissistic personality disorder.

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