Genes and Mental Health: Two Surprising Factors that Can Cause a Tanning Bed Addiction (29).jpg

It's known that cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin ageing as well as cancer - tanning is one of the actions a person can engage in that causes the most skin damage and people who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent - so if that's the case, what drives tanning bed addicts?

US Scientists at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center surveyed just under 300 non-Hispanic white women between the ages of 18-30 who engaged in indoor tanning in order to find out why this age group was excessively attracted to tanning if they're aware that women younger than 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors.

The researchers explored the possibility of mental health issues by asking their subjects questions about their values and behaviours as well as collected DNA data through saliva samples. The study found that women with symptoms of depression and modifications to the reward related genes were most at risk, in some cases, 13-times more likely to have an cancer-causing indoor tanning addiction. Knowing there these mutations lay could help for women to receive help and allow for intervention.

Women without signs of depression, but still carried the variant genes, were twice as likely to develop tanning addictions.

Lead author Darren Mays, an associate professor of oncology further explained how this data can help in justifying the need for intervention;

"By demonstrating that genes in behavioral reward pathways are associated with tanning addiction, we are providing stronger evidence that tanning addiction is a cancer risk behavior in need of intervention".