Patricia Krentcil: Why tanorexics are prepared to risk skin cancer for a session on a sunbed

Hooked on the creosote look: Why tanorexics are prepared to risk skin cancer for a session on a sunbed

|

UPDATED:

19:31 GMT, 3 May 2012

The creosote colour of Patricia Krentcil's skin was almost as shocking as news this week that the New Jersey mother, 44, had allegedly allowed her fair-skinned five-year-old to join her in a tanning booth.

Now a series of experts have explained the reasons why some women become addicted to sunbeds.

Those who suffer from so called 'tanorexia' feel more relaxed after sunbathing or a session in a sunbed, according to Sophie Balk, a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital at
Montefiore in New York.

Patricia Krentcil

Tanorexic: The colour of sunbed user Patricia Krentcil's skin was almost as shocking as news that she allegedly let her daughter, five, use a tanning booth

She told NJ.com: 'Some people even experience withdrawal symptoms… They may know it’s bad but they can’t cut back.'

Withdrawal symptoms witnessed in 'chronically tanned people' can include depression and anxiety, she reveals.

The reason for this, according to Jeanine Downie, a
dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey, is because tanning can trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can increase a sense of well-being.

Many tanorexics also ironically believe that they look healthier with a darker skin colour.

Of course, a sunbed habit can have dangerous consequences, even for occasional users; the increased risk of skin cancer for excessive tanners will come as little surprise to anyone.

Sunbeds

Addicted: Withdrawal symptoms witnessed in 'chronically tanned people' can include depression and anxiety, say experts

The Skin Cancer Foundation says sunbed users are over four times more likely to develop melanoma than those who don't use them.

Dr Downie told NJ.com that this is because tanning beds emit around 12 to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun.

'Every time you tan chronically
your are increasing your chances of getting skin cancer about 75
percent,' she said.

Ms Krentcil was arrested after she took her pale
five-year-old daughter to a tanning salon, where the child received
severe burns all over her body, authorities say.

Through her attorney, she entered a plea of not guilty in a Superior Court to a charge of
child endangerment. New Jersey law bars anyone under 14 from using a
tanning salon.

The incident began when the child's kindergarten teacher called authorities after she noticed the painful
burns when the girl when to school.

Prior to the hearing, Ms Krentcil, who herself admits tanning to excess, called the accusation a lie.

'It's all made up,' she said.