The case against indoor tanning is a strong one: according to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning before the age of 35 is linked to a 75 percent increase in the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. But the cancer risk hasn’t been bad for business — on an average day, more than 1 million people visit indoor tanning salons, and research conducted in 2008 found an average of 42 tanning salons per city in the United States.
Tanning aside, there are more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year, and an estimated $300 million is spent annually treating melanoma.
If indoor tanning poses such a substantial health risk, why do people — especially teens — keep doing it?
A recently published report by Catherine E. Mosher of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Sharon Danoff-Burg of the University of Albany, State University of New York, offers one explanation for the rampant use of tanning beds by people who should know better: For some, indoor tanning could be addictive.
The researchers gave 421 study participants two questionnaires traditionally used to test for alcohol and substance abuse that had been modified to measure tanning addiction. They also assessed participants’ anxiety, depression and substance use.