As dermatologist Dr. Doris Day states in a recent interview: “We often consider going to a tanning salon the equivalent of smoking for the skin. And the younger you start, those effects are cumulative," meaning that Krentcil could have been experiencing this “high” for many, many years.
Combine this with her inability to objectively assess her appearance, and you have a dangerous mix that has likely significantly increased her risk of both skin cancer and prematurely aged skin.
How do you know if you have tanorexia?
Tanning bed use has been under much scrutiny in the past few years, as mounting research has found the use of the devices greatly increases a person’s risk of developing skin cancer. This scrutiny sharpened after the World Health Organization classified tanning beds “carcinogenic to humans,” citing a 2006 study that found that people who used these devices before age 30 had a 75 percent higher risk of developing melanoma. Some say tanning bed use is behind the rising rates of skin cancer among young people (especially women).
If you’re concerned that you or someone in your life is addicted to tanning, here are four signs experts say often point to tanorexia:
- You or your friend perceives his or her skin to be lighter than it actually is.
- You or your loved one “competes” with others to see who has the darkest skin.
- You or someone you know experiences profound anxiety or depression at missing a tanning session.
- You or your loved one is constantly frustrated at not being tan enough.
Being aware of the problem is the first step in treating it. And experts say educating the public about the cancer risks of tanning bed use might also help people seek help for their tanning bed addiction.
As for Krentcil, she has denied taking her daughter into the tanning booth, and a jury will have to decide if that is the case. But perhaps some good can come from her example, such as shining a spotlight of the risks of tanning bed use and raising awareness about the possible addictive consequences of these devices.
And all the attention may do Krentcil herself some good, starting with the fact that her own tanning salon has revoked her membership and offered her a refund.