Addicted to sun tanning?

Despite the numerous information campaigns, it is difficult to get the message through to target populations, particularly in the case of young people, who are in fact most vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation. There are many possible explanations for this failure, including the still-popular belief that people are more attractive and look healthier when they are tanned. But in the past few years, a new explanation has emerged: sun exposure may be addictive.

Summertime… For Quebecers, who spend a large part of the year bundled up, the heat can be intoxicating. But it also means that more skin is getting exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

At this time of the year, public health and dermatologists’ associations regularly remind us of the dangers of sun exposure. And with reason. It is estimated that in 2010, there will be 75,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in Canada. While many skin cancers are benign if diagnosed early enough, some are more aggressive, and their incidence is on the rise.

Despite the numerous information campaigns, it is difficult to get the message through to target populations, particularly in the case of young people, who are in fact most vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation. There are many possible explanations for this failure, including the still-popular belief that people are more attractive and look healthier when they are tanned. But in the past few years, a new explanation has emerged: sun exposure may be addictive.

Other than the physical appearance motivation, many tanning enthusiasts mention that regular tanning sessions have positive effects on their mood, and that they provide a means of relaxation and of meeting people. But as with cigarettes and alcohol, whose harmful effects are now well established, scientists believe that certain mechanisms that lead to dependence may be activated by tanning. Researchers therefore asked 145 sunbathers on a beach to answer two questionnaires: one is commonly used to detect alcohol dependence, and the other is used by psychiatrists to help identify people suffering from a substance abuse disorder. The tests were modified to refer to tanning rather than to alcohol or drugs. A quarter of the respondents scored positively on the first test, and more than half did likewise on the second test. These results indicate that for some people, tanning sessions have a drug-like effect on the brain.

The moral of this story: since good habits are often acquired at a young age, make sure that young people learn to save their skin as they take in the joys summer!

The drugs and pharmaceutical services featured on the familiprix.com website are offered by pharmacists who own the affiliated pharmacies at Familiprix. The information contained on the familiprix.com site is for informational purposes only and does not in any way replace the advice and advice of your pharmacist or any other health professional. Always consult a health professional before taking or discontinuing medication or making any other decision. Familiprix inc. and the proprietary pharmacists affiliated with Familiprix do not engage in any way by making this information available on this website.