We all have heard the warnings: bed tanning can kill you. People who first use a tanning bed before age 35, increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. However, people still continue to bed tan. Lauren Fink, a senior student at CU Boulder, enjoys tanning because she likes the way it makes her look, and feel. “It helps my confidence level a lot. I feel ugly when I am pale,” says Fink.
Frequent tanners exhibit signs of both physical and psychological dependence. Similarly to smokers, tanning addicts say that it would be easy to quit. Fink says that she probably will not continue tanning after college as much, maybe just once in a while. However, her dependency to tanning, will be hard to break since it has addictive qualities that are very similar to drugs and alcohol. UV light has been shown to increase release of opioid- like endorphins. These are feel-good chemicals that help to generate feelings of happiness and dull pain, potentially leading to dependency.
There are also many social pressures within CU’s community, that make girls feel like they have to be tan, to be attractive. “So many girls on this campus are tan, so you want to be just as tan as them,” said Fink. This industry is clearly not going anywhere, but 9,730 people are predicted to die in 2017 from skin cancer.