We Are Sunshine

Dr. Phil episode to look once again at tanning and addiction

Friday, December 12th, 2008

An upcoming episode of the Dr. Phil show will once again attempt to make the case that indoor tanning can be an addiction — despite the fact that there is no real evidence to support such a blanket statement.

2008-12-11-addicted-to-misinformation-tanningnews-copy.jpgDiscover Magazine in September blew the whistle on recent studies attempting to make the questionable case that suntanning — like drugs — can be addictive, putting one paper on the subject on Discover’s “Worst Study of the Week” listing.

“Do one in four college students really have a tanning dependency? This sound more like a scare tactic than good science,” Discover health and science writer Andrew Moseman said in a column this week. He was commenting on a Virginia Commonwealth University survey that asked students about their tanning habits. According to Moseman, forty percent said they’d used tanning booths, and the researchers classified 27 percent as tanning dependent.

“This conclusion seems a little suspect,” Moseman continued. “First, the questionnaire the researchers used was adapted from one used to survey people for symptoms of substance abuse and dependence. While that at first seems like a clever way to do a study, we have to wonder: Isn’t it a self-fulfilling prophecy to ask questions that presuppose tanning to be an addiction, and then declare that tanning is a widespread addiction?”

Smart Tan has written extensively that humans are designed to be attracted to sunlight — just as we are attracted to food, water and air. “Confusing a biological attraction with an addiction is more political science than it is legitimate science,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “We’re glad Discover can see through this.”

Smart Tan’s position on tanning and addiction:

The mis-statement that tanning can be addictive misses the point entirely and, perhaps most importantly, cheapens the legitimacy of concern over real issues involving addiction.

Humans are not addicted to UV exposure. We are ATTRACTED to UV exposure. It is entirely natural because we are supposed to get regular UV exposure to be healthy.

To say anyone is addicted to UV is like saying they are addicted to air, food or water. We are naturally attracted to these things because we need them.

Consider this: Vitamin D — the sunshine vitamin — is now linked to lower risk of most cancers, heart disease and many other disorders. The reason vitamin D research is so compelling today is that the natural vitamin D blood levels necessary to achieve cancer risk reduction as indicated by hundreds of new studies are only naturally achievable through regular UV exposure. That’s because getting a suntan in a non-burning fashion will make 100 times more vitamin D than an 8-ounce glass of whole milk.

All of which is to say that Mother Nature meant for us to get regular UV exposure and the vitamin D levels that are naturally attainable only through UV exposure. Getting a tan is a natural result of that intended behavior. The author of this story doesn’t seem to get that.

Billions of dollars are made telling you to avoid the sun — much more than will ever be made by the small businesses who offer professional indoor tanning services.

Check out the whole truth at