Can Tanning Improve Your Mood?

While some people use tanning beds only occasionally, at least 10 percent of indoor tanners use tanning beds for more than 20 hours a year. While most research on the motivations of frequent tanners has focused on their desire to improve appearance, Dr. Steven R. Feldman of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, conducted a study that may indicate that some people tan because it makes them feel relaxed.

" Tanning isn't just about pigment change in the skin," Feldman said, "UV radiation has complex effects, among them an effect on mood, at least in frequent tanners". "Not everybody is susceptible to this effect". "I think that the people who tan four to six times before the prom or a cruise don't have the same response". "Like a lot of other things, tanning is bad when done to excess."

To examine what lures frequent tanners to tanning beds, Dr. Feldman and his researchers studied 14 people -- all women except one man -- who used tanning beds 8 to 15 times a month. During tanning sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays, participants spent part of the time in a normal tanning bed and part of the time in a tanning bed that did not emit any UV radiation. The beds were equipped with special filters that made them appear indistinguishable. On Fridays, participants were offered the chance to use the tanning bed of their choice - either one bed for the whole session or a combination of the two. Although the tanning beds looked identical, frequent tanners were not fooled. Out of the 12 people who chose to tan on Fridays, all but one selected the UV-emitting bed for the entire session. What's more, tanners felt more relaxed and less tense after using a UV tanning bed than they did after using a dummy tanning bed.

How UV radiation relaxes people is a bit of a mystery. One possibility, according to the report, is that it may trigger skin to produce substances called endorphins that are associated with pleasure. Whether endorphins are involved remains uncertain, however, because the researchers did not measure endorphin levels before and after UV exposure.

The Study May Also Explain How UV Lowers Blood Pressure

Dr. Joseph Mercola, www.mercola.com, believes these findings also support the theory that UV lowers blood pressure. He cites an article from 1997 from a peer-reviewed journal that supports this concept. In fact, it appears that the further from the equator one moves the more risk there is of high blood pressure. The teenagers exposed to tanning beds felt a relaxing effect, and since stress raises blood pressure, these teenagers experiencing relaxed feelings from UV rays are likely lowering their blood pressure.

The researchers theorize that UV exposure leads to the release of chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which are linked to both pain relief and euphoric feelings. The researchers believe that decreased vitamin D production actually results in increased parathyroid hormone production that actually serves to increase blood pressure. Another study actually found that vitamin D is a negative inhibitor of the renin-angiotensin system and this serves to lower blood pressure.

"So the end result, Mercola says, "is you can happily ignore the advice of conventional medicine physicians that warn you to stay out of the sunlight". "Their advice is one of the major reasons why we have an increase in heart disease. We all need sunlight and when we don't receive it our health will suffer. We just need to exert common sense guidelines and always avoid getting sun burned".

Info from Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, (Reuters7/04), Dr. Joseph Mercola www.mercola.com (7/04)
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Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.

Copyright © 2004-2014 • Ray Allard • All Rights Reserved

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