Addicted to tanning? Sunshine really can act like a drug, study finds

June 20, 2014 12:37 PM

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Addicted to tanning? Sunshine really can act like a drug, study finds

Despite the well-publicized risks of skin damage and cancer from too much sun, people continue to soak up ultraviolet radiation outdoors and in tanning salons. Now a new animal study adds to evidence that for some, tanning is truly an addiction.

In experiments with mice, scientists found that exposing the animals to a daily dose of UV light boosted their blood levels of beta-endorphins within a week. Beta-endorphins are "feel-good" hormones that act on the same brain pathways as so-called opioid drugs like heroin and morphine.

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