Can sunbathing become an addiction?
Spending time in the sun may have some addictive properties, according to a new study.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital exposed mice to UV light daily for six weeks. The researchers described the daily exposure as the equivalent of half an hour of midday Florida sun. Examining how the UV radiation affected the mice chemically, the researchers found that the light produced endorphins, or pleasure chemicals. The mice were then given drugs to block the sun-induced endorphins, which led to shaking, terrors and other symptoms of withdrawal.
The study’s results, published in the journal Cell, suggest that people may unknowingly be becoming chemically addicted to the feelings associated with sun exposure. Some researchers not involved in the study, however, said that “addiction” might be an inaccurate conclusion, as people do not give up their family lives or their jobs to spend time in the sun, which is characteristic of people who are addicted to drugs.
While the degree to which people may become “sun-addicted” remains unclear, researchers concluded that people should be aware of the potentially dangerous effects of repeated sun exposure, such as elevated risk of skin cancer.