Tanorexic? Yes, studies show that it is possible to get addicted to tanning. One New Jersey mom has fueled a new debate when her darkly tanned face was revealed, denying that she had allowed her 5-year-old to tan as well. Now experts say that there could be more to the story.
Studies show that incidents of skin cancer continue to arise despite the fact the doctors have spent the past decade desperately trying to teach their patients about the danger of the sun. It appears the problem is that people already know that it's not good to bathe in the sun, but they also don't care.
One study has even suggested that tanning can be addiction comparable to alcoholism or drug abuse. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered that individuals may become as dependent on tanning as they do on other addictive substances.
"Dermatologists often talk about people who seem 'addicted to the sun' -- people who know it's not good for them to be bronzed all the time, but don't seem to be able to stop tanning," UTMB professor Richard Wagner, senior author of the study, told Medical News Today.
"It's interesting that by slightly modifying tools used to identify substance-related disorders, we can actually see an objective similarity between regular tanning and those disorders," Wagner continued.
Many experts say yes and the numbers seem to agree that a large number of Americans may suffer from the same condition.
"Tanning-bed revenues topped $2.6 billion in 2010, thanks to the more than 27 million Americans who sought that sun-kissed glow at their local strip mall instead of the beach," The Los Angeles Times reported.
"How can I get a dark brown tan like the people from Jersey Shore.? I KNOW, TANNING IS BAD FOR THE SKIN. CAUSES CANCER. I am well aware of it. (: So, how can I get a tan like that with a tanning booth? (:" Isabelle asked on the Yahoo Questions site.
Other experts suggest that the addiction goes far beyond just the desire to tan. It appears that many have simply become addicted to their own vanity, believing that achieving a popular look will add to their self-value and how much others value them. The problem then would not be tanning in itself but rather society's inability to shift focus from looks to things that really matter.
Who cares how smart or kind you are?