Healthcast: Tanning Addiction


We’ve heard the statistics and the warnings: skin cancer is America’s fastest growing cancer and sun tan beds and salons add to that danger. But lots of folks keep going, and one dermatologist thinks they may actually be addicted to them.

When people expose their skin to the ultraviolet rays found at the beach and in suntan beds, scientists now say there’s a proven reason so many people feel good afterward.

Sancy Leachman, M.D., PhD, Chair of Dermatology at Oregon Health and Science University said “They can lay down and they feel calm. Relaxed. They’ve chilled out. But there’s a biochemical reason for that. And it’s because of the release of these endogenous endorphins and about 10 percent of our population, just like 10 percent in other drugs are very easily addicted to that.”

Dr. Leachman says despite the years of public health warnings, people still deny how dangerous sun tanning can be, especially for young women and men older than 50, who have the highest levels of melanoma in America today.

“I can’t tell you how many young women I’ve had with melanoma or more than one melanoma who have been victims of the sun tan salon trend,” Dr. Leachman said.

Take all of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers in America and add them together. That total still is less than the number of skin cancers doctors found last year alone.

Here’s another statistic: every hour someone dies from melanoma.

One more little known fact from the skin cancer foundation: cities like Portland and Seattle, usually considered cloudy and rainy much of the year, are among the states with the highest rates of skin cancer in America. Why? Researchers still aren’t sure.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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