Sunbathing is Addictive, Researchers Warn

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Last Updated: Jun 25, 2014

Sunlight has properties that can lead to endorphin production in the skin, which makes sunbathing addictive, research found.

A research team of Harvard Medical School conducted experiments on mice and found out that repeated UV exposures made the animals addicted.

According to Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers this type of addiction occurs because UV radiation makes the skin produce the protein called proopiomelanocortin. This protein breaks down into melanin for the tan, but it also produces the pleasure chemical called endorphins. This chemical has the same effect to the body as morphine and heroine.

The researchers let frequent tanners use addiction treatment and found that these people suffered the same withdrawal symptoms that addicts undergo, including shaking, jitteriness, and nausea.

The researchers used mice to conduct this study. Though the mice suffered withdrawal symptoms, it did not look for UV ray like an addict crave for his or her drug of choice.

Massachusetts General Hospital researcher Dr David Fisher said he has reasonable confidence to believe that addiction in sunbathing exists. Unsuspecting people may go out to get that tan, without knowing that they could get addicted, which would later on lead to skin cancer.

There are other experts who argue that addiction to UV ray is not correct. According to University of Cambridge addiction researcher Dr David Belin, those who researched about UV ray addiction have results that do not support their claims. If UV ray was addictive, people would spend more time under the sun, losing their jobs, ruining their lives, likes addicts do.

Dr Clare Stanford of University College London’s experimental psychopharmacology, said that the previous studies didn’t show if the mice preferred non-UV light or UV light.

Ultimately, experts suggest moderation and protection when it comes to sun exposure to avoid life-threatening diseases especially skin cancer.

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