dermatology: tanning sessions might boost user’s mood

Frequent tanners may be addicted to the mood-elevating effects of ultraviolet, or UV, light, say researchers from North Carolina’s Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. In the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Steven Feldman and colleagues report that exposure to UV light produces a state of relaxation that may lure tanners into coming back for more. In a six-week study, the researchers had 14 volunteers spend tanning sessions divided between two identical-looking tanning beds, the difference being that only one used UV light. After UV exposure, participants reported feeling more relaxed and less tense compared to non-UV exposure. The researchers think that UV light might help release endorphins chemicals that induce euphoria in the body, improving the tanner’s mood. “We believe these relaxing and reinforcing effects contribute to tanning behavior and may help explain why people choose to tan despite the risks,” Feldman stated in a press release.

This news brief appeared in the Discoveries column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 7/13/2004.
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