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Anything can be a drug

Even the sun. Some enjoy the sun so much that a dependence-behavior is adopted. Why is this? Well, when a person lies in the sun, the UV radiation encourages the release of endorphins. This ‘feel good’ hormone causes the runner’s high or pain relief that athletes and drug users crave. Apparently, these hormones follow the same pathways with drugs like heroin or morphine.

This information comes from a published study (June 2014) that links the need for repeated UV exposure to a heroin-like addiction. Scientists shaved mice and exposed them to six weeks of UV light. During the first week alone, endorphin levels increased. After the six-week period, they treated the mice with an opioid-blocking drug. Shaking, tremors and other withdrawal symptoms occurred.

Why use mice? Apparently, rodents are cheap, breed quickly, and have genomes that compare to humans. Their genes can be modified to mimic diseases being studied.

Based on this mouse study, science has proclaimed that humans are “genetically programmed” to becoming addicted to UV radiation. This might be due to the systemic need for Vitamin D. That is not a good enough reason for David Fisher of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He suggests that it may require a “conscious effort” to protect our skin vs. enjoying the sun.

Whether it is the need for Vitamin D synthesis or an addictive personality, sun exposure is here to stay. Forget about the fact that sun exposure is linked to skin cancers or that it is a common U.S. cancer statistic, or that it is the reason why people show signs of aging prematurely.

It does not matter to people that feel good in the sun. The best bet is to invest in a good sunscreen, reapply it often and do not be a slave to the sun between 10 in the morning and 4 p.m.

Try incorporating that Individual Difference into the statistic.

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