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Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2009 Feb;25(1):12-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0781.2009.00392.x.

Tanning as an addictive behavior: a literature review.

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Department of Dermatology, Center for Dermatology Research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1071, USA.



Recent studies have identified reinforcing properties associated with tanning and suggest a possible physiologic mechanism and addiction driving tanning behavior.


This article attempts to synthesize the existing literature on tanning and addiction to investigate possible associations.


We investigated a variety of substance dependence models to define what constitutes dependence/addiction and to determine how current studies on tanning meet these criteria.


In some individuals, tanning has met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria for a substance-related disorder or tanning-modified Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilt, Eye-opener criteria. Trial studies have demonstrated the induction of withdrawal symptoms in frequent tanners.


Additional studies are needed to investigate the associated dependency and addiction more fully and to elucidate its similarities to other better-known addictive syndromes.


Tanning is a problem behavior, both as a health risk and as a possible dependency. Future studies, especially in the area of cognitive mapping and cue-related stimuli are needed. Imaging studies may be important in elucidating whether the same areas of the brain are involved in tanning addiction as in other addictive syndromes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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