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Did you know that some people frequent indoor tanning salons because it makes them feel good, as in more relaxed and even less depressed? And I thought people who liked to splay themselves in a roasting bed like a chicken on a rotisserie spit were just in it for superficial reasons, like ridding themselves of a pasty white pallor.
Turns out, some people use tanning booths to stave off seasonal affective disorder (sadness brought on my long, dreary, sun-less winters), and to alleviate anxiety. Some even use it to get high, or, as a recent study in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology put it, for “opiate-like reactions.” In fact, a recent study found up to one-third of regular tanners may actually be addicted.
But I digress.
According to the aforementioned study in the Archives of Dermatology, up to 40% of “older adolescent” women use tanning beds, despite all of the public health messages about the risks of tanning and skin cancer. Since the big “C” word didn't seem to be enough to discourage them from frequenting the tanning beds, researchers decided to find out if they could dissuade such women from nuking themselves by focusing instead on the less attractive effects tanning could have on their appearance. Jackpot!
During the study, the authors assessed the indoor tanning habits of 430 female college students to find out how often they bake their skin, and why. The authors then provided booklets to 200 of them about the damaging effects of tanning on the skin. The booklet also offered healthier alternatives for enhancing their appearance, such as exercise and using sunless tanning products.
Six months later, the researchers followed up with the tanners and found that the women who received interventional pamphlets reduced the amount of times they went tanning. And, as it turns out, even the women who felt addicted to tanning, or did it for the mood-boosting properties were affected by the pamphlets. According to the study’s author, “Information on the damaging effects of tanning on their appearance is effective even if they are addicted to tanning or using it to ameliorate depression symptoms.”