Tanorexia is taking over college towns

As if college wasn’t risky enough, a study conducted by the Fox Chase Research Center recently found that more than a quarter of students at a large university showed signs of being addicted to tanning.  Apparently cocaine doesn’t cut it anymore.  Although I joke, this is actually a very serious issue.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States.  It is also one of the most easily avoided.  Still, it seems hard to envision the occasional day spent at the pool as a gateway drug of sorts to life-threatening UV overexposure.  Perhaps that is why so many people remain skeptical of the danger behind this trend. 

Is she getting a killer tan, or killer cancer?

Is she getting a killer tan, or killer cancer?

But I think it’s easy to see why tanning is addictive, in addition to the fact that scientists have proven UV rays can actually induce a physical high.  For one thing, tanning is cheap compared to other drugs.  It typically costs less than $10 to tan at a salon, and the sun is free.  When you tan, you get immediate results.  A tan makes you appear slimmer in the same way that a black shirt does, because dark colors create the illusion of a smaller size.   As for the psychological component, the media is saturated with bronzed celebrities that college-aged people emulate on a daily basis. 
I think of it this way: You may look good now, but you won’t look so hot in 10 years when a dermatologist is hacking basal cell carcinomas out of your face.  So, until people realize the seriousness of this trend, I doubt we’ll see any Tanners Anonymous support groups anytime soon.  In the meantime, may I suggest a sunless tanner?

~ by Stephanie Dunn on September 9, 2008.

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