A suntan is mostly associated with good health and vitality. However, just a small amount of sunlight is needed for the body to manufacture vitamin D. It doesn't take much sunlight to make all the vitamin D one can use certainly far less than it takes to get a suntan.
Recently, a study was conducted to better understand the complex motivations involved with UV light (UVL) tanning behavior. For the study, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston asked 145 area beachgoers a series of questions derived from questionnaires originally used to identify alcohol or drug abuse.
The study is published in the August issue of Archives of Dermatology. Two written instruments, the CAGE (Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-opener) Questionnaire, used to screen for alcohol abuse or dependence, and the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria for substance-related disorders, were modified to evaluate subjects for a substance-related disorder involving UVL tanning.
Of the 145 subjects, 38 (26%) met the modified CAGE criteria, and 77 (53%) met the modified DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for a substance-related disorder with regard to UVL and related sun tanning. The results from both instruments were significantly associated. The results imply that 26 percent to 53 percent of the beachgoers could be classified as UV-tanning-dependent.
Some sun worshippers may actually be psychologically addicted to tanning, researchers report. The finding may explain why, despite widespread campaigns to alert people to the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, many people continue to sunbathe or use tanning booths.
The authors conclude that individuals who chronically and repetitively expose themselves to UVL to tan may have a novel type of UVL substance-related disorder.