Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is tanning an addiction?

I noticed this article in the NYTimes reporting that frequent tanning mimics the effect of drug use. A teaser:
A study in 2005 did show that a large proportion of sunbathers met the psychiatric definition of a substance abuse disorder, based on their answers to a variation of a test often used to help diagnose alcohol addiction... Brain images later showed that during regular tanning sessions, when the study subjects were exposed to UV rays, several key areas of the brain lighted up. Among those areas were the dorsal striatum, the left anterior insula and part of the orbitofrontal cortex – all areas that have been implicated in addiction.
There is a on-going debate in mental health communities on what meets the definition of an addiction. There are many who suggest that neuroscience provides the defining characteristic--simply stated, that there are certain ways that the brain responds to stimulus that are classified as "addiction." This theory has been advanced to make the case for sex addiction, shopping addiction, gambling addiction, and so on. But the question of what is and what is not an addiction remains open for discussion.

Those are just my thoughts this morning. Read the whole article here.

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