Skip to Content

Why Do Young Women Get Addicted to Indoor Tanning?

TUESDAY, June 18, 2019 -- A combination of depression and genetic risk may fuel an addiction to indoor tanning.

That's the conclusion of a new study out of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C.

For the study, researchers surveyed nearly 300 women who used indoor tanning beds, sunlamps or sun booths, and analyzed DNA samples. The women were white and between 18 and 30 years of age.

The risk of tanning addiction doubled in those who had mutations in genes related to dopamine activity; dopamine is key to the brain's pleasure and reward system. Those mutations, coupled with others linked to depression, increased the risk of tanning addiction by up to 13 times.

"By demonstrating that genes in behavioral reward pathways are associated with tanning addiction, we are providing stronger evidence that tanning addiction is a cancer risk behavior in need of intervention," lead author Darren Mays said in a Georgetown news release. "This finding adds to a growing body of evidence from animal studies and neuroimaging studies that have been done in humans."

Mays is an associate professor of oncology. He's now beginning a study into the use of text messages as a way to help young women quit if they are addicted to tanning.

Exposure to ultraviolet light can cause skin cancers, including deadly melanoma. Indoor tanning accounts for 10% of skin cancers, and this year nearly 100,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma.

The report was published online June 11 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: June 2019

Read this next

DNA Analysis Might Reveal Melanoma Risk

THURSDAY, Oct. 8, 2020 -- DNA mutations in skin cells may signal a risk for melanoma long before it's visible to the eye, a new study suggests. Exposure to sun damages skin and...

No Link Between Permanent Hair Dyes and Cancer: Study

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2020 -- Millions of people color their own hair, even though some of the chemicals in permanent hair dyes are considered possible carcinogens. So, is home hair...

Expert Tips to Help You Beat the Heat

THURSDAY, July 23, 2020 -- With much of the United States blanketed by a heat wave this week, the American Red Cross offers some survival tips. Each year, extreme heat kills more...