Despite warnings that tanning brings a greater risk of skin cancer, many still tan to excess and U.S. researchers suggest mental health issues may play a role.
Lisham Ashrafioun, a Bowling Green State University doctoral student in psychology, and Dr. Erin Bonar, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center and a BGSU alumna, showed some who engage in excessive tanning might also be suffering from obsessive-compulsive and body dysmorphic disorders.
"While more research is needed regarding to idea of tanning as an addiction, this study suggests that some people who tan also experience mental health symptoms that warrant further assessment," Bonar said in a statement.
Respondents who answered yes to at least three of the eight criteria involving mental disorders were considered tanning dependent, while those who answered yes to two of four questions on the tanning-specific version of an alcohol screener were considered to have problematic tanning, Ashrafioun said.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology scheduled to be published this year, found of the 533 tanning students who took the questionnaire, 31 percent met the criteria for tanning dependence and 12 percent for problematic tanning.