Shed­ding new light on tan­ning

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Se­rial sun wor­ship­pers may be driven by more than the de­sire for a tan. Seems those ul­tra­vi­o­let rays can be ad­dict­ing.

Af­ter just one week of be­ing ex­posed to what would be the equiv­a­lent of a fair-skinned per­son sit­ting in mid­day sun in Florida for 20 to 30 min­utes each day, mice in a re­cent study had sig­nif­i­cantly higher lev­els of en­dor­phins—or feel-good hor­mones—which re­mained el­e­vated for the en­tire six-week ex­po­sure pe­riod.

The UV ex­po­sure led to “an opi­oid-me­di­ated he­do­nic ex­pe­ri­ence” — which is ba­si­cally a high—and was fol­lowed by de­pen­dence. When given a med­i­ca­tion to counter the ef­fects, the mice went through with­drawal symp­toms, like tremors, shak­ing and rear­ing.

UV ex­po­sure can be ad­dic­tive for peo­ple too, warn the re­searchers, who say recre­ational tan­ning may en­gage the same path­ways. “This pro­vides a po­ten­tial ex­pla­na­tion for the sun-seek­ing be­hav­ior that may un­der­lie the re­lent­less rise in most forms of skin can­cer,” said study co-au­thor Dr. David Fisher of Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, Bos­ton, and Har­vard Med­i­cal School, re­gard­ing the find­ings pub­lished this month in the jour­nal Cell. “The de­ci­sion to pro­tect our skin may re­quire more of a con­scious effort rather than a pas­sive pref­er­ence,” he said. But doesn’t think a to­tal

Out­liers eclipse on fun in the sun is in or­der. Sun­light is, af­ter all, the body’s main source of vi­ta­min D … and low lev­els of that vi­ta­min have been linked to var­i­ous ail­ments in re­cent re­ports. So don’t hide in­side dur­ing the up­com­ing Fourth of July week­end. Just avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion says are the most haz­ardous for out­door UV ex­po­sure in the U.S. And don’t for­get the sun­screen.

G E T Y I M A G E S

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