By Sandra McNeill

DETROIT (WWJ) – As the FDA orders tougher new standards for sunscreen manufacturers, studies show the reason why so many people feel they just need to tan is that it can be an addiction, similar to what happens to those who are hooked on alcohol.

This is according to the Chairman of Dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital, Dr. Henry W. Lim, who spoke with WWJ’s Sandra McNeill on Wednesday.

“I mean, it’s addictive, and it’s starting to show now that tanning is like drinking,” said Lim.  “There are chemical changes in the body that shows it’s an addiction.”

Lim said those chemical changes have caused those in test studies to choose damaging UV rays over other types of light.

“There is an increase in a chemical in the body while tanning in a test that shows in given subjects, as well as an animal study, that would induce addictive behavior towards getting a tan,” he said.

There’s not a lot known about tanning addiction, but Lim said that chemical changes produced by tanning can happen to anyone, even those that have never been to a tanning bed before.

“Anybody can be addicted, but the primary users of tanning beds are usually young individuals.”

Lim said that those who tan will not get withdrawal symptoms after tanning for so long.

“They won’t, but still it is psychologically not easy for them to get off,” said Lim.

Lim said the primary users of tanning beds are young women.  That’s the reason he sees skin cancer patients at younger and younger ages, even those in their early twenties.

At the Mayor Clinic, experts recommend sunless tanning as a safe alternative to beds and outdoor exposure. Read about it here.


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