Skin Cancer Isn’t The Only Health Risk Of Tanning
By now, you already know that tanning significantly increases your risk for skin cancer. But according to a recent study from the Yale School of Public Health, soaking in those rays is linked to other serious health complications, too.
After surveying about 500 people who have sunbathed or used a tanning bed in the past, researchers found that people who met the criteria for “tanning addiction”—for example, those who reported that their tanning was out of control or were feeling tranquil afterward—were six times more likely to be dependent on alcohol and three times more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that hits you during the colder months.
That’s a scary thought: Excessive alcohol use can lead to a slew of health problems, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Here’s why drinking a little booze each day may be killing you.)
Plus, dealing with depression—even if it’s just the winter blues—can make you feel tired, irritable, and gain weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.
That doesn’t necessarily mean tanning causes alcoholism and depression. A reverse reaction could be happening here: Light therapy is often prescribed to people dealing with SAD and alcoholism is often rooted in depression, experts suggest. Since exposure to UV light increases your endorphin production—feel-good chemicals that boost your mood—tanning might offer an addictive spike in happiness when you feel down, the researchers say.
Plus, if you have one type of dependence, you are more likely to have another addiction, lead study author Brenda Cartmel, Ph.D., said in a press release.
Bottom line: While the sun may give you a healthy dose of vitamin D, overdoing it never seems to be worth the risks. If you plan on basking in it, make sure you’re applying sunscreen correctly to minimize your cancer chances.
Addicted to the mood boost the rays give you? Try these 15 instant ways to make yourself happier instead.