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article imageIs sunbathing addictive?

By Tim Sandle     Jun 21, 2014 in Health
Are some people addictive to soaking up the rays? One study concludes so. Chronic exposure to ultraviolet light leads to endorphin release and signs of addiction in mice.
A study on mice suggests that sun-worshipping might actually become addictive. With the study, shaved mice were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light for six weeks. At the end of the period, the muice showed elevated levels of endorphins (the hormone that triggers 'happy feelings') in their blood, and giving the animals an opioid blocker sent them into withdrawal.
In a research note, study author David Fisher of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, has 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."
The researchers are hopeful that the findings might help in efforts to prevent excessive UV exposure, which can lead to skin cancer and premature aging.
Not all scientists, however, are convinced. Clare Stanford of University College London told The Telegraph that “this study does not provide the sort of evidence needed to show addiction to UV light in mice and it is even less certain that the work predicts addiction in humans. This would require testing whether the mice preferred UV light or non-UV light.”
The findings have been published in the journal Cell, in a paper titled "Skin β-Endorphin Mediates Addiction to UV Light".
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