Brain responds to sunbathing like other addictions

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Can’t resist getting a tan despite the risks? It might be more than a habit. That’s the suggestion from a study in mice showing that exposure to ultraviolet radiation triggers similar effects to drug addiction.

Scientists found that the mice exhibited a response similar to addiction. For a start, they produced more feel-good hormones called beta-endorphins, which bind to opioid receptors – the same receptors that respond to heroin and related drugs.

But later in the study, when the mice had been exposed to many doses of UV light, their pain tolerance decreased, showing that this production of pain-blocking endorphins lowered. This means the mice were building up a tolerance and would require increasing amounts of UV exposure to achieve the same feeling, just as addicts build up a tolerance to drugs.

They also showed signs of physical dependence, displaying classic withdrawal behaviours, including “wet dog” shaking, paw tremors and chattering teeth.

Read the full, original story: Sunbathing may have similar effects to drug addiction

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