This is your brain on tanning

New brain research! Scientists have now shown that people’s brains light up in the “oooh, drugs!” and “oooh, sugar!” parts of the brains when they’re on a tanning bed. But only if it’s a real tanning bed; if the light is filtered for UV rays (aka, the cancer kind) without their knowing it, they don’t feel as satisfied afterward — their brains know they got the placebo drug.

This further explains one dermatologist’s frustration that “young adults who were coming to see her with these beautiful bronze tans. And she would cut out skin cancers, and they would immediately go back to tanning.” Kind of like people who smoke even though they knew it will give them cancer and wrinkles. In fact, exactly like people who do something even though it will give them cancer and wrinkles!

It’s official! Tanning beds are the new cigarettes. With the caveat that when people are in tanning beds, the fumes don’t drift in my window and make me want to throttle someone.

I’ve never been a tanning bed person… if you use tanning beds, do you want to comment about whether knowing that you might literally be addicted to them changes how you feel about them? The news that using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma (skin cancer) by 74% isn’t new. But does knowing that what you’re going through is an addiction make you take a step back from things and view that statistic any differently?

I know that to my friends who smoke, knowing they’re addicted doesn’t make it much easier to quit, and they’ll come up with all sorts of logistical gymnastics as to why THEY won’t get cancer. Though, the ones who have intimate familiarity with a loved one’s battle with cancer do seem to have a different attitude towards it — more like they “can’t” quit than they don’t think they have to.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    This is an interesting concept. I’ve only gone tanning one time for just 10 minutes back when I was in the 9th grade (now a college senior) and I can see why some people get addicted to it. I wanted to go back but I didn’t have the money. Now that it’s been so long and I remember feeling like I wanted to continue doing it, it’s easier for me to say no!
    I love your blog; keep on writing!

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