Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tanning 'may be an addiction'

BBC - Sunbathing may be a physical addiction, research in the United States suggests. Scientists believe exposure to ultraviolet rays may stimulate the release of chemicals in the blood which produce a natural high.

The team from Wake Forest University in North Carolina say this may explain why some people are prepared to ignore the fact that too much sun exposure can cause cancer. Their research is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The Wake Forest team analysed 14 people, aged between 16 and 34, who typically used tanning beds two times a week.

Each volunteer spent 15 minutes lying on a sunbed which exposed them to UV rays and then on another - again for 15 minutes - which released no rays. The volunteers were not told which beds released UV. The subjects were asked if they would like to return days later and use a sunbed of their own choosing. Twelve returned and 95% opted for the bed which radiated UV light. They said it made them feel good and helped them relax.

The researchers believe that tanning may release endorphins into the bloodstream... Frequent tanners may become addicted to the feelings induced by the chemicals, it is believed.

The British Association of Dermatologists warns that the long-term effects may include premature ageing, skin cancer and an increased risk of cataracts. The British Medical Association has also advised people not to use sunbeds.

Tanners, let it be known: when all is said and done, you're not too different from a crackwhore. ;-)


At 5:56 PM, Blogger BSizzler said...

I have heard that tanning, or at least spending time in the sun causes the synthesis of vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium. So it would make sense that people chose the UV beds because their bodies were able to find a source that helped them attain the vitamin D. Moreover, I dont think 14 or 15 people is a very large sample size. Not only that, but there are lots of things that enduce the release of endorphins. Running( Runners High) even lauging release endorphins. Laughter is the best medicine after all.


At 10:40 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Vit. D? C'mon, you're stretching...


There's more evidence on the hazards of tanning beds. Baking under their artificial lamps as little as once a month can boost your risk of a deadly form of skin cancer by 55% -- and the danger is even greater when done in early adulthood.

A new study involving more than 106,000 Scandinavian women shows what its researchers say is the strongest evidence to date that artificial tanning can cause malignant melanoma.

Past research shows tanning beds raise risk of other types of skin cancer. Last year, Dartmouth researchers reported that people who ever visited a tanning salon were 2½ times more likely to later get squamous cell skin cancer and 1½ times more likely to develop basal cell skin cancer than those who didn't...

Those who used sun lamps to tan while in their 20s had the greatest later risk, about 150% higher than similarly aged women who shunned tanning beds...

"We knew artificial tanning was bad, but it's worse than we thought. This is a large, powerful study and I think what it does is confirm what we suspected," [said James Spencer, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology and vice chairman of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study.] ... "If you're a tennis player or boater, at least you can go outside and enjoy yourself," he says. "You can wear sunscreen and a hat and get exercise. But when you go to a tanning salon, you're lying in a coffin-like device and not enjoying life. It's just dumb."

At 5:25 PM, Blogger BSizzler said...

"Q. Would you describe vitamin D as an underrated vitamin? A. I would say vitamin D has been taken for granted and, as a result, has been ignored.

However, this vitamin is critically important for maintaining normal calcium in the blood and for bone health. The vitamin plays a crucial role in most metabolic functions and also, muscle, cardiac and neurological functions. Without enough of it, a child can get rickets, and an adult might suffer bone softening, a mineralization defect. Vitamin D deficiency can precipitate and exacerbate osteoporosis.

Moreover, there is evidence that vitamin D may have subtle but profound effects on regulating cell growth and on our cardiovascular and immune systems. There is a strong association of sunlight exposure and increased blood levels of vitamin D with a decreased risk of many common cancers: colon, breast, prostate, ovarian. "


Im not saying excessive tanning is a good thing, but i believe that it shouldnt be condemned. I checked WEB MD and Salynn Boyles says,
"I think the current message that all unprotected sun exposure is bad for you is too extreme," he tells WebMD. "The original message was that people should limit their sun exposure, not that they should avoid the sun entirely. I do believe that some unprotected exposure to the sun is important for health." That being said there are other sources of Vitamin D available. I think the key here is moderation.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger BSizzler said...

Im just playing the opposite side on this one. But if a person doesnt want/is unable to get out side very often, perhaps a few minutes in a tanning booth could be beneficial? I dunno. Lemme know your thoughts.


At 12:55 AM, Blogger Luke said...

First of all, the initial article you cited comes from "Hot Tubs to Go," which publishes "Spa and Tanning News Articles" while selling tanning products on its own site; think that might be a bit of a biased source? This "article" is really nothing more than an interview of a Michael Holick, MD (whom you quote again later, erroneously citing your source as a Ms. Salynn Boyles, who happens to be a freelance journalist, not a physician).

Why is this important? Well, rather than picking and choosing from 'medical' writings in order to "play the opposite side," I think patients are benefitted most when we all try to "make theories fit the facts," not the other way around. And the facts in this case are hardly controvertible.

You see, the physician you base your whole argument on is a certain Dr. Hollick. The article from which YOU took your latter quote can be found on WebMD, but you failed to give a link to it, which would have shown that Dr. Hollick is derided by many of his peers in the dermatology world. Also from YOUR article:

In a recent press release, American Academy of Dermatology officials wrote that they were "deeply concerned" that [Dr. Hollick's] message that unprotected sun exposure may have health benefits could "mislead the public about the very real danger of sun exposure, the leading cause of skin cancer."

And for a little more insight into the matter (we want a full look at the issue, right?), here's a revealing selection from Prevention Magazine:

Indoor-tanning businesses took that baton and ran with it, boldly offering their services as a solution to what they've dubbed "a life-threatening epidemic of vitamin D deficiency."

"My wife uses tanning beds because she's concerned about vitamin D deficiency," says Michael Stepp, CEO of Wolff System Technologies, a major manufacturer of tanning lamps in Marietta, GA. "Sure, she's Norwegian with a lot of moles, but she knows that the health benefits of a small amount of sun exposure far outweigh the risks."

Such carefully crafted messages and testimonials extolling the benefits of tanning "are convincing women that tanning salons are safe," says Mark Naylor, MD, a dermatologist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, an independent biomedical research organization in Oklahoma City. The industry spin also has dermatologists scrambling to head off the public's misplaced concerns regarding the need for vitamin D. "These claims are ludicrous," says James Spencer, MD, professor of dermatology at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "The great majority of Americans get adequate amounts of vitamin D." In addition, the amount of sunlight a fair-skinned person needs to make a whole month's supply of vitamin D is about 5 to 10 minutes three times a week--just on the face...

Murky science and controversial claims are nothing new for the indoor-tanning industry, which used to advertise its tanning devices as safer than the sun. Now, it employs marketing practices that are even more aggressive than the tobacco industry's methods prior to the antismoking backlash of the 1970s. "When the first research came out showing that smoking was dangerous, the tobacco industry's response was always, 'We don't know. There's just not enough science,'" says Spencer. "But here, the tanning industry is not just saying it's not dangerous; it's saying tanning is actually good for you. The tobacco industry never said that, to my recollection."

Even more worrisome than the tanning camp's assertions regarding vitamin D is its position on cancer, which it says can be caused by sun deprivation and prevented by tanning lamps. The claims--that brief exposure to tanning devices can ward off cancers of the colon, prostate, and breast, as well as a host of other debilitating diseases, including osteoporosis, arthritis, and depression--do contain a tiny kernel of truth. They're based on research conducted largely by Michael Holick, MD, director of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University, with partial funding from the tanning industry. But Holick concedes that the amount of sunshine you need is minimal, "and you don't need to go to tanning salons to get it."


Holick was forced to resign from his school's department of dermatology in February. Rather than spinning his controversial work, I think its best for everyone if we let the facts speak for themselves. Tanning beds are a PROVEN carcinogen - anyone who uses them should not do so thinking they're getting a benefit (e.g., Vitamin D)... in reality, they're increasing their risk of disease and death significantly. The medical literature backs this up.

So it all boils down to this: are you gonna trust a doctor who appears to be in the pocket of the tanning industry or the rest of the medical community when it comes to making potentially life-and-death decisions?

At 10:48 AM, Blogger BSizzler said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger BSizzler said...

LOL..."Overexposure will result in skin tanning." Duh Brian. I meant skin cancer. My gross lack of spelling and grammer will be the end of me. Do blogs have an edit comment feature? All I found was the delete message button.

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Question: Is tanning really addictive? Moreover is it really a problem? I now agree that overexposure will result in skin tanning [cancer]. But can you get addicted to it? Would you agree that the endorphins that are released by running, or laughing, or even eating chocolate can become an addiction?

Answer: There's not enough evidence to answer all of your questions definitively, but this initial study suggests that in fact, tanning can become an addictive behavior. Endorphins positively affect one's mood, so it follows that a behavior which produces these "feel-good" chemicals (e.g., running, eating chocolate, or sunbathing) may be reinforced by an individual's unconscious desire to "feel good."

The following two selections review what the authors of the aforementioned study found, the research's shortcomings, and a warning about the dangers of tanning:

Study suggests UV light boosts endorphin levels in sun lovers:

So, what is the underlying reason for better moods after UV exposure? Feldman speculates that endorphins, the "feel-good" chemicals released in the brain during exercise, for instance, may also be released when the body is exposed to UV light. Previous laboratory studies have shown endorphin release with UV light exposure, he said.

Another expert said the study reflects traditional knowledge by dermatologists but offers a new twist with the potential for UV light's mood-boosting effect. "The concept is not really new," said Dr David J. Goldberg, vice president of the US Skin Cancer Foundation. "We all know this, that sunbathing is addictive," he said. "For most people, the whole idea of getting sun begets more getting sun. This study just underlines that. It is a well-controlled study and a well-designed study."

Like most dermatologists, Goldberg said he has tried to educate sun worshippers and tanning booth fans to the harms of UV light. "If [talking about] wrinkles or brown spots doesn't do it, we talk about squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. And if that doesn't do it, we talk about melanomas."

UV radiation induces mutations and some will lead to skin cancer, according to the US Skin Cancer Foundation. Exposure to radiation from a tanning booth may even be more risky than exposure to natural sunlight.

Feldman now has another study in mind: he wants to block endorphins in frequent tanners with the use of a medication, then see if the tanners can distinguish between UV light-emitting beds and those that emit no light. If his endorphin theory is correct, the tanners whose endorphins are blocked would not be able to distinguish between the UV light-emitting beds and the ones emitting no UV light.


Tanning Beds Obsession or Addiction:

A study involved persons who regularly use tanning beds in order to maintain a perfect and perpetual tan. For six weeks, participants in the study were offered a maximum of 3 tanning sessions per week but they were not given any information about the type of light in individual tanning beds. One session actually used UV light, the second used non-UV light, while an optional third session left the tanning bed choice up to the individual.

When given a choice, almost everyone preferred the tanning beds with the UV light, claiming that they felt "more relaxed and less tense" after using these beds. Since UV light stimulates the release of brain chemicals called endorphins that have a mood-boosting effect, perhaps this is the explanation for why tanning for many people becomes addictive behavior.

Comment: This was a very small study -- only 14 people of whom only 12 opted for a third session.

It is also not clear whether this study can truly be described as being done under "blinded conditions." We would think that there would be an obvious difference between a tan produced by UV light and no tan from non-UV light and that study participants consciously (or subconsciously) preferred the way they looked after being exposed to the "true" UV light.

The bottom line is that no matter whether tanning turns out to be a cosmetic obsession or an emotional addiction, tanning is not good for anyone. Frequent tanners need to be discouraged from pursuing this unhealthy habit.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.


The difference between becoming addicted to running/eating chocolate and artificial tanning is this - the former two options are much less likely to result in one's death from cancer. If we agree that spending time in sunbeds increases the risk of developing a potentially life-endangering tumorigenesis and we both acknowledge that the practical costs of tanning outweigh its benefits, then I think we're on the same page. My main point is this - whether addicting or not, UV beds should not be trusted. Don't buy the industry spin - your best bet is to simply stay away from them. Enjoy the outdoors if you want to "feel good." :-)

At 11:59 PM, Blogger Luke said...

My last post was in response to the following message from B-Sizzler (which he inadvertently deleted):

Alright, Alright, you tore me a new one on that one. But we still havent covered the premise of your original artical. Is tanning really addictive? Moreover is it really a problem? I now agree that overexposure will result in skin tanning. But can you get addicted to it? Would you agree that the endorphins that are released by running, or laughing, or even eating chocolate can become an addiction? Im sure we both could argue over the possible health risks or medicinal benefits of both. Runners most likely have higher incidents of sprained ankles. So i guess the question is, are all endophins created equal?

I wish there was an edit comments feature, but there's not. Oh well, maybe someday...

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