Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Tanning Trippers Get UV High

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Tanning Trippers Get UV High

Article excerpt

It has long been suspected that cutaneous endorphins are produced during exposure to UV light. Now research published in the April 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that frequent users of tanning beds may become addicted to these endorphins. Moreover, blocking the effects of the endorphins could lead to withdrawal symptoms.

"This might explain why some people appear to be hooked on sunbathing and why frequent users of tanning beds say they experience a positive mood change or are more relaxed after a session," says coauthor Steven Feldman, a professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Feldman's team thought that blocking this endorphin rush might cause such people to lose some of their tanning enthusiasm; what they didn't expect was for some to develop withdrawal symptoms.

The subjects included eight frequent tanners (who used tanning beds 8 to 15 times per month) and eight infrequent tanners (who used them up to 12 times per year). The researchers administered either a placebo or 5, 15, or 25 mg of naltrexone, a central and peripheral opioid receptor blocker; this blockage causes withdrawal symptoms in opioid drug-addicted people but not in nonaddicted people. The subjects were then asked to lie for 10 minutes on each of two tanning beds, one a true UV bed, the other rigged not to deliver UV light. Afterwards, the subjects, who were blind to the test conditions, were asked to describe which session made them feel best. …

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