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Tanning and Skin Cancer: A Deadly Duo

It’s no secret that sunbathing for a long duration of time without protection, such as sunscreen or cover-ups, is not good for our health.  In fact, international cancer experts declared tanning a carcinogen just a few years ago during the surge in popularity in indoor tanning salons, particularly among young people.  Skin cancer, particularly Melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer, has sharply increased in prevalence in young and older women alike.  Now researcher are finding why we can’t stay away from the sun–even if it costs us our health–and the primary reason might not be vanity.

Feel-Good Hormones Keep us Basking in the Sun

A new study published in the journal Cell found that ultraviolet light may actually act as a sort of drug on our bodies.  Specifically, ultraviolet light may be rewarding to the brain because it releases endorphins, or the “feel-good” hormone.  In the study, researchers used mice to test their hypothesis by exposing the animals to a daily does of UV light.  The researchers found that the UV light boosted the animals’ levels of endorphins within a week.  The mice exposed to UV light also became less sensitive to touch and temperature, and when their endorphins were blocked, they showed classic symptoms of withdrawal such as shaking, trembling and teeth chattering.

Will Hardcore Sun Worshippers Have to Seek Addiction Treatment?

Although some people may be swayed by the recent uptick in cases of skin cancer and the warnings of skin cancer experts, other hardcore sun worshippers may have a harder time relinquishing their time under the beating rays.  However, skin cancer is a serious disease, particularly since skin is more affected by cancer than any other part of the body.  It will be interesting to see if hardcore sun worshippers will have to seek out addiction treatment in the future for their obsession with tanning and sunbathing.  Researchers say that it may be worthwhile looking at those individuals who seemingly cannot stop tanning even in the face of serious consequences, such as a previous diagnosis of skin cancer.

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