Anxiety (Panic)/DepressionCancerSubstance AbuseTanning

Tanorexic: Signs and symptoms of addiction to indoor tanning

Researchers at the University at Albany, State University of New York report the prevalence of addiction to indoor tanning among college students and its association with substance use and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

First, the details.

  • 421 college students were recruited.
  • The CAGE (Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-opener) Questionnaire was used to screen for alcoholism.
  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) criteria for substance-related disorders were modified to evaluate study participants for addiction to indoor tanning.
  • The participants completed a questionnaire about their anxiety, depression, and substance use.
  • Self-reported addiction to indoor tanning, substance use, and symptoms of anxiety and depression were evaluated.

And, the results.

  • Among 229 participants who had used indoor tanning facilities, 39% met the DSM-IV-TR criteria and 31% met CAGE criteria for addiction to indoor tanning.
  • Students with addiction to indoor tanning reported greater symptoms of anxiety and greater use of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances than those who didn’t meet these criteria.
  • Depressive symptoms did not significantly vary by indoor tanning addiction status.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Interventions to reduce skin cancer risk should address the addictive qualities of indoor tanning for a minority of individuals and the relationship of this behavior to other addictions and affective disturbance.”

The connection between tanning and addiction isn’t new. Here’s an article from 2006, still relevant today, that reviews what was known at that time.

The more important question is: Are you tanorexic? If you recognize yourself in this article from the Indoor Tanning Lotion Reviews web site, maybe you are.

10/31/10 21:30 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.