Can sunshine be as addictive as heroin?

sunbather on beach with bookIf recent media reports are to be believed, then sunshine can be “as addictive as heroin.” Although the study on which the reports were based was carried out on mice, the claims were surprising as sunlight does not typically fall into the list of common addictions such as cigarettes or alcohol. We looked at the media claims and found that the comparison was inaccurate, but ‘tanning addiction’ appears to have a scientific basis and several studies have investigated it.

True or False?

There is no doubt that sustained exposure to ultraviolet light can bring about (mainly psychological) symptoms similar to those that drug addicts experience, although they are nowhere near as extensive. Dr David Fisher who led the study behind the reports, questioned claims that sunshine is “as addictive as heroin” without analysis into the potency of heroin versus UV light. Dr Clare Stanford also told us that a mere ‘prefence‘ towards sunlight does not indicate addiction, and so it is largely false that sunshine can be as addictive as heroin.

[Read more…]