Study suggests one in five sunbed users may be ‘addicted’

29 Aug 2017

A new study released in the British Journal of Dermatology has revealed that as many as one in five sunbed users may be addicted to the practise.

The study assessed a method called the Behavioral Addiction Indoor Tanning Screener (BAITS), a short screening survey that includes seven questions. The study method is designed to highlight the main features of addictive behaviours, including experience of diminished control over behaviour, and temptations that lead to urges or craving for the behaviour.

Researchers used data from the National Cancer Aid Monitoring on Sunbed Use and surveyed 3,000 people from Germany. Out of that number, 300 admitted to using sunbeds, with 19.7% screening positive for symptoms of potential indoor tanning addiction.

The British Journal of Dermatology states that whilst BAITS is not a final diagnosis of indoor tanning, which would require a more formal assessment, it does identify symptoms of a potential addiction.

Lead author of the study, Dr Katharina Diehl of the Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine at Heidelberg University in Germany, said, “BAITS can be used as a screening tool in large surveys but it may also help physicians and healthcare providers to identify individuals in particular need of specific counselling to avoid the continuous use of tanning beds.”

Head of communications at the British Association of Dermatologists, Nina Goad, added, “This is an interesting pilot study with two important developments: the first is a new way of measuring symptoms of tanning addiction in a large population group. The second is the finding, on testing this method, that as many as one in five sunbed users may have symptoms of addiction.”

She concluded, “There is strong evidence that use of sunbeds increases the risk of skin cancers, including malignant melanoma which is the most deadly type. For people who start using sunbeds before the age of 35 years, the relative risk of malignant melanoma almost doubles. If indoor tanning does indeed have addiction potential, being able to assess the scale of the problem will be imperative. It certainly would help to explain why so many people continue to use sunbeds despite knowing the risks.” 

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