60-Second Science

Tanning: Can You Be Addicted?

Using a questionnaire designed to test for substance addiction, researchers determined that some regular users of indoor tanning salons are tanning addicts. Christopher Intagliata reports

Scientists have finally verified something that Jersey Shore stars Snooki and Pauly D have probably known all along—that getting your bronze on at the tanning salon may be addictive. And the more often you tan, the more likely you are to get hooked, according to a study in the Archives of Dermatology. [Catherine Mosher and Sharon Danoff-Burg,]

The researchers started with two questionnaires commonly used to assess patients for alcohol abuse and substance-related disorders. But they modified the questions to focus on indoor tanning habits. For example: "Do you try to cut down on the time you spend in tanning beds or booths but find yourself still tanning?"

Then they gave those surveys to a couple hundred undergrads who fake'n'bake, on average, 23 times a year. The result? Fifty students, or about a fifth of those surveyed, met the authors' criteria for addiction to indoor tanning. This group also reported greater symptoms of anxiety, and were more likely to use drugs and alcohol. The investigators say drugs and tanning lamps might hook you through similar means, including peer pressure.

As for Snooki, it may be time for an intervention. When asked how she would change the world if she could, she said, “I would put tanning beds in everybody's homes."

—Christopher Intagliata

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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