Could You Be a Tanorexic?

I treat anorexics but this was a new one for me. A “tanorexic” is a person who ignores the health risks and may need intervention to stop because of habitual tanning.

BY: Linda Mintle


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They indicated YES. They had the desire to continue. The other group was exposed to the ultravolet radiation. The reward centers in their brains lit up like addicts. When asked if they wanted to continue to tan, they said NO because they had their fix. Like the smoker who takes a hit of nicotine to satisfy the craving, the ultraviolet radiation exposed group had had enough for the moment. The thinking here is that indoor tanning can stimulate reward centers in the brain, making it difficult for people to stop.

The UV light may be the rewarding property that prompts tanners to keep going even when it is unhealthy and they are at risk. So despite all the warnings about the harmful rays one is exposed to in tanning beds, people (around 30 million a year) continue to indoor tan. How many of those are addicted? We don’t know but don’t be surprised if you see a Tanning Anonymous group next to the anorexics!

Follow Dr. Mintle on her Doing Life Together blog.

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Related Topics: Women, Health & Wellness, Tanning