New research says tanning can be addictive

By Holly Brantley - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Is it the warm bed, or the sun-kissed glow? New research suggests it's possible to be addicted to tanning.

Scientists actually think tanning activates the same parts of the brain triggered by drug dependence. That goes for whether you tan indoors or outdoors and suggests people tan to deal with emotions, not necessarily for appearance.

"I like to have a basic tan," said Linda Pierce. "I've been tanning since I was 15 years old."

Linda Pierce says she loves to tan and for her, it's about keeping the bronze color.

"It's all about the color," said Pierce.

At Tans R Us in Cape Girardeau, Megan Goncher says they see plenty of regulars, like Pierce.

"Some people just love the heat," said Goncher.

Goncher says tanning in moderation and encouraging customers to use lotion is important.

"Some people feel it's their only vice and it's okay," said Goncher.

Frequent tanners tell us it improves their mood and they feel there are far worse addictions than tanning. Some even pointed out it can help you get essential levels of Vitamin D.

"It's a big self-esteem boost for people," said Goncher.

According to the national study, some of those surveyed said tanning actually disrupted their lives. No one we spoke to locally had any issues like that, in fact they say it helps them relax.

"Exactly," said Goncher. "I get 20 minutes in this bed and no one can bother me."

The study appeared in the Archives of Dermatology. It shows those considered addicted had an average of 40 tanning visits in the past year. But, some reported more than 100 visits.

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