Is excessive tanning an addiction? Does tanning have anything in common with diseases like alcoholism? Medicine may be moving in this direction with the recent definition of “tanorexia” and now, a new diagnostic test for tanning dependence.
First, a little background on the infamous CAGE questions, used by clinicians to assess for alcoholism:
C: Have you tried to cut down on your drinking?
A: Are you annoyed when people mention your drinking?
G: Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?
E: Do you have a drink first thing in the morning (an “eye-opener”)?
Answering yes to two or more of these questions is strongly suggestive for alcohol dependence.
Medical students have cleverly adopted the CAGE questions for all kinds of behaviors, substituting “drinking alcohol” with “studying” or “drinking coffee”. Now it seems UTMB dermatologist Dr. Richard Wagner has adopted CAGE to tanning:
…beachgoers reported if they were annoyed when people asked them to stop tanning, if they could not make themselves cut down on sunbathing, felt guilty about their habit, and wanted to tan as soon as they woke up…
“Anecdotal observations about patients who seemed ‘addicted to the sun’ have been discussed in dermatology for years,” the authors note. They point out that the sun helps release endorphins in the skin, and people may become addicted to the feeling they get after tanning.
As much as half of the beachgoing public may be addicted to the sun, according to the report. We at Medgadget want to note that we enjoy the sun from time to time, socially, in moderation. But we can stop at any time, and we never tan while driving.
More from Dr. Wagner’s appearance on ABC World News Tonight (WMV file)…