Why do some people insist on tanning?

People who say they’re addicted to tanning act like alcoholics and drug addicts.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, think they know why.

First, the details.

  • 7 frequent salon bed tanners were placed under a UVA/UVB tanning light during 2 sessions
    • Ultraviolet radiation
    • Filtered ultraviolet radiation (sham exposure)
  • Session order was random.
  • To measure centrally rewarding properties of ultraviolet radiation, the effects of a commercially available tanning bed on regional cerebral blood flow and changes in brain activity were measured.
  • The patients didn’t know the order of treatment — single blind.

And, the results.

  • Relative to sham ultraviolet radiation session, during ultraviolet radiation there was a relative increase in regional cerebral blood flow of the dorsal striatum (contributes to decision-making), anterior insula (implicated in orgasm, cigarette craving, and decision making) and medial orbitofrontal cortex (cognitive processing of decisions).
  • These changes were accompanied by a decrease in the subjective desire to tan.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “These findings suggest that ultraviolet radiation may have centrally rewarding properties that encourage excessive tanning.”

8/13/11 21:29 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 www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.