Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Addicted to Tanning?

We've all heard about it. It made headlines last week: "CDC says Indoor Tanning Causes Skin Cancer." Whether skin cancer has touched your life through media, or perhaps even a personal experience, we all now know that tanning beds and tanning in general isn't a good idea. But we continue to lay out.

So let's go a little deeper than the tanning bed. Studies are now showing a chemical addition to tanning. It is being called 'the new form of substance abuse.' Some of the reported benefits of frequent tanning — mood enhancement and relaxation — are also consistent with addiction. Furthermore, many frequent tanners report difficulty quitting. 

Frequent tanners exhibit signs of both physical and psychological dependence.
When a substance causes physical dependency, repeated use of that substance causes symptoms of increased tolerance, craving, and withdrawal. UV light has been shown to increase release of opioid- like endorphins, feel-good chemicals that relieve pain and generate feelings of well-being, potentially leading to dependency. Sounds like the deck is stacked against us, right? Plus, we are always hearing that vitamin D is best when received from the sun (just no more than 15 minutes a day).

 Psychological dependence refers to the effect of a substance on the brain’s reward system and its memory of rewards. The production of sensations of pleasure or well-being encourages repeated use. When we receive the suns golden rays or the rays from a tanning bed, we essentially feel good. Who wouldn't want to give that up?

Part of catching this preventable disease early is fairly easy. When’s the last time you had a professional head to toe skin care exam?  Here are the ABCDE’s warning signs of melanoma that you can look for:

Asymmetry- One half of a mole doesn't match the other half

Border: The border is irregular, notched, blurred or ragged.
Color: The mole or lesion has a variety of colors, including shades of brown, tan or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white or blue.
Diameter: The suspicious area is new or at least a quarter-inch in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser).
Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
 By keeping an eye on your skin and a routinely scheduled skin checkup in your planner, you have the power to completely avoid this disease. Here are some things you can do right away:

-Apply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen everyday (yes, even in winter.)
-Don’t burn!

-Seek shade between 10 am and 4 pm when sun is the strongest