Individuals who use UV tanning beds may meet the criteria for addiction and are more likely to suffer from anxiety symptoms and substance abuse, a study released Monday said.
The research, carried out by professors from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the University at Albany, State University of New York, examined 421 students, including 229 who had used tanning beds in the last year.
On average, those using the tanning beds had done so 23 times in the last year and around 70 percent of those showed signs of tanning addiction, based on two measures used to judge other forms of addiction, including substance abuse.
"Despite ongoing efforts to educate the public about the health risks associated with natural and non-solar UV radiation, recreational tanning continues to increase among young adults," wrote Catherine Mosher of Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Sharon Danoff-Burg in the Archives of Dermatology journal.
"In addition to the desire for appearance enhancement, motivations for tanning include relaxation, improved mood, and socialization," the authors said.
If future studies confirmed a link between "affective factors" and indoor tanning, "treating an underlying mood disorder may be a necessary step in reducing skin cancer risk among those who frequently tan indoors," Mosher and Danoff-Burg said.
The pair suggested future evaluation of whether anxiety and depression screening could be provided to users of UV tanning beds, so that patients with either issue could be referred to mental health professionals.