Seems like a ridiculous question. But it turns out, you could be addicted to the sun. Even crazier, you could have a genetic predisposition to that sun addiction.
Researchers at King’s College London studied 260,000 to find a link between sun-seeking behavior and genes involved in addiction, behavioral and personality traits, and brain function. What they found was that some people are genetically wired to crave sunshine.
Senior author Dr Mario Falchi from King’s College London said: “Our results suggest that tackling excessive sun exposure or use of tanning beds might be more challenging than expected, as it is influenced by genetic factors. It is important for the public to be aware of this predisposition, as it could make people more mindful of their behaviour and the potential harms of excessive sun exposure.”
The study questions whether skin cancer awareness campaigns should take this genetic predisposition into account. That is an interesting thought. Should awareness efforts act as though they are battling an addiction?
This brings to mind the “Your Brain on Drugs” ad campaigns from the late ‘80’s. The ones that compared the brain to an egg, and a brain on drugs as a fried egg. Would the same tactic work to promote sun safety?
“This fresh apricot is your skin. This dried apricot is your skin with sun damage.” Not sure that has the same pizzazz as the egg comparison.
While this study is very interesting, changing skin cancer awareness campaigns to account for addiction could have adverse effects. It could lead people to believe that skin cancer is only an issue if you have an addiction to the sun.
Skin cancer is a threat to everyone, regardless of a genetic predisposition or not. There are many people who are at high risk for skin cancer due to their profession, not a need to soak in the sun.
Messaging needs to stay true. Everyone is at risk of skin cancer. Period.
For those who may be genetically predisposed to sun addiction, please take sun protection very seriously. Your life depends on it.