Skip to main content
Dr. Michaels' Blog

Addicted to Tanning? You Bet!

By now most us know that tanning beds are bad. They can give us wrinkles and leathery skin and make us look a lot older than we really are. They can even cause cancer.

But did you know tanning beds could turn you into an addict?

Seventy percent of frequent tanners respond positively to an assessment of addictive behavior called the CAGE questionaire: tried to Cut down, been Annoyed by criticism, feel Guilty, need an Eye-opener.

When a group of frequent tanners were asked to tell a real tanning bed from a fake non-tanning blue-light bed, they could pick the real bed in minutes. Non-tanners tried, but couldn’t tell the difference.

Naloxone is a drug used to reverse the effects of opiates, addictive chemicals such as heroin. When Naxalone was given to tanners, fifty percent went into withdrawal. It turns out that UV light—the light in tanning beds– causes the skin to produce its own opiates.

So, yes, tanning beds are addictive. So much so that the Affordable Care Act health care law includes a ten percent tax on tanning beds, just like the taxes on cigarettes.

If you want some color, go for the spray tans. Spray tans and topical tanning products work exclusively in the outer layers of the skin. If done well, they look just like suntans. And, unlike tanning beds and sun exposure, spray tans are safe.

These women are identical twins.

tanning twin picture








The left twin didn’t tan regularly, the right did.

One Comment