Is There a Sun Tanning Addiction?

Posted on August 17, 2005

Scientists trying to figure out why people continue to tan and increase their risk of skin cancer and wrinkles despite being aware of these risks. The BBC reports that one of the new theories being raised is that people have an actual addiction to sun tanning. A small study of just 145 people found that this could be the case but others dismissed the idea saying the benefit was a percieved social beneft rather than a chemical addiction.

However Colin Drummond, professor of addiction psychiatry at St George's Hospital Medical School, London, said: "I have concerns about calling everything in the world an addiction."

"There's a tendency to translate extremes of behaviour into addictions."

Professor Drummond said addictions meant a particular chemical mechanism occurred in the brain which determined a person's behaviour.

Such a mechanism had not yet been established for sunbathing, so the habit could not be labelled an addiction.

He said people tanned because they wanted to conform socially, not because they were addicted to the feeling.

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