Sunbathing can be an addiction

If you spend hours in the sun despite knowing how dangerous it can be, you’re not alone.

Because a study suggests that sunbathing is addictive – and affects the brain in a way similar to heroin. Harvard scientists claim exposure to sunlight prompts the body to produce endorphins, chemicals that ease pain and make us feel good.

Sunbathing is addictive and triggers the release of feel-good hormones which have a heroin-like hold on the brain and body. They discovered that mice which were regularly exposed to sunlamps showed signs of addiction, and went into withdrawal when they were deprived of their fix. The finding could help to explain why we find it hard to resist baking on the beach or lying on sunbeds when we know it increases our risk of developing skin cancer.

The disease claims more than 2,000 lives a year and the number of cases has risen seven-fold since sunshine package holidays took off in the 1960s.

The US researchers said: ‘It’s surprising that we’re genetically programmed to become addicted to something as dangerous as UV radiation, which is probably the most common carcinogen in the world.’ Daily Mail 20/6/14.

Iain Mack