Is tanning an addiction? It very well may be in individuals who use tanning beds and other indoor tanning devices on a regular basis, especially men. A new study suggests that the tanning behaviors of men are riskier than those of women and that the compulsion to tan mirrors other addictions, including in how harmful they can be.
Tanning Beds are Dangerous and Increase Your Risk for Skin Cancer
Even here in sunny South Florida, there is no shortage of places – salons, gyms, homes – where people can tan their skin indoors, primarily by using tanning beds. The problem is that tanning beds are simply dangerous.
A study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) from July 2009 found tanning devices that emit UV radiation, including sunlamps and beds, are considered a member of the highest cancer risk category. Tanning beds are now classified as carcinogenic to humans, a strong shift from prior years when they were considered likely carcinogenic.
The IARC says two types of skin cancer are linked to indoor tanning: squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. UV-emitting tanning devices are also associated with cancer of the eye, known as ocular melanoma. For individuals who use tanning beds before the age of 35, melanoma risk increases an astonishing 75 percent.
Addicted to Tan
While a tanning salon may conjure up images of women more than men, a recent study by researchers at the University of Connecticut published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that one in every three people who use tanning beds on a regular basis are men. The study involved a survey of 636 Americans who said they had used a tanning bed in the past. The respondents were asked how often they used tanning beds, where they preferred to tan, how they felt about tanning, and why they tanned. The results found significant differences between men and women in terms of the hows and whys of their tanning behaviors.
Specifically, the study found that:
- 49 percent of men who used tanning beds fit a pattern of addictive behavior around tanning.
- Men who tanned regularly reported smoking tobacco, binge drinking alcohol, and drinking soda significantly more often than women who tan.
- At a higher rate than women, men answered “yes” when asked if they ever felt anxious if they couldn’t tan, tanned to relieve stress, or spent money on tanning even when they couldn’t afford it. They also agreed with statements such as “I’d like to quit but I keep going back to it.”
- Women preferred to tan in salons, and said they valued low cost, cleanliness, and convenience.
- Men preferred less regulated settings, such as gyms or private homes and reported that the reasons they used tanning beds were to accentuate the appearance of their muscles or as a reward for exercising.
Unfortunately, like other addictions, tanning can lead to serious or fatal consequences. Skin cancer, which is directly linked to indoor tanning, is by far the most common of all cancers. In fact, more Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined, and one in five Americans will get skin cancer before the age of 70.
Individuals concerned about the health of their skin and overall well-being should think twice before lying down in a tanning bed.
Dr. Mariano Busso: Schedule a Skin Cancer Screening Today
Acclaimed Miami skin cancer doctor Dr. Mariano Busso specializes in the diagnosis of melanoma along with all other skin conditions. An acclaimed aesthetic dermatologist, Dr. Mariano Busso has built an international patient base through comprehensive cosmetic, laser, and dermatological care. As a skin cancer doctor, Dr. Busso helps patients identify, target and prevent future incidences of melanoma. Call our Miami offices today at 305-857-0144 to schedule your consultation and skin cancer screening today.