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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Indoor Tanning Addiction Linked to Anxiety, Drug Abuse

People Addicted to Indoor Tanning Are More Likely to Have Anxiety and Substance Abuse Problems, Study Finds

Indoor Tanning "Feels Good" continued...

John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association in Washington, D.C., says labeling something as an addictive behavior is becoming something of a trend. “It is really popular to label a group or activity as an addiction such as Internet addiction, pornography addiction, or video game addiction, and this is a form of condemnation by labeling and I am not sure it is scientifically sound,” he says.

Although too much of a good thing is always a possibility, Overstreet does not see indoor tanning as an addiction.

Risks of Indoor Tanning

“We are seeing women in their 20s with melanoma where the sun doesn’t shine, but where the UV rays from tanning beds do, and we would have never seen this a decade ago,” Rigel says.

“Indoor tanning is not safer than sunbathing and may even be more dangerous,” Heckman says. Besides increasing risk of skin cancer, tanning also promotes wrinkles and age spots, she says.

“If you want to look tan, use sunless tanners,” she says.

Indoor Tanning in the News

The new study may provide another blow to the indoor tanning industry. An advisory panel to the FDA recently met to discuss imposing new regulations on indoor tanning. The panel recommended banning the use of tanning beds among children and teens or requiring strict parental consent, as well as potentially banning the use of indoor tanning by people with extremely pale skin. In addition, the panel suggested that indoor tanning devices be re-classified so that they have stricter warning labels and are more firmly regulated to limit the levels of radiation the devices emit.

There is also a 10% tax on indoor tanning services included in the new health care reform bill. A tax won’t make a dent in an addict’s habit, Rigel says. A 10% tax on a $20 indoor tanning session, for example, is just $2. Still, “it can’t hurt, but we have to get people to not think that tanning is wonderful,” he says.

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