Two sunbed sessions per week might reduce suicide, depression and other mental health disorders with a yearly average of 10% in the USA and even more in other countries.
The conclusion that regular sessions in a sunbed reduce suicide is possible to make after having studied a report titled “Seasonality in Seeking Mental Health Information on Google”, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Volume 44, Issue 5 , Pages 520-525, May 2013, lead author: John W. Ayers, PhD, MA, Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health, San Diego, California; Directing Medicine LLC, Baltimore, Maryland).
The researchers simply used Google Trends and entered certain mental health related search-words (ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder); anxiety; bipolar; depression; anorexia or bulimia (eating disorders); OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder); schizophrenia; and suicide).
For once, this is a research which is relatively easy to replicate for anyone with access to the Internet and it can be done in any language. (The image below shows the trends for USA during 2008, which was a year with an unusual large difference (40%) between July and December)
Here is the summary of the findings in the report:
“All mental health queries followed seasonal patterns with winter peaks and summer troughs amounting to a 14% (95% CI=11%, 16%) difference in volume for the U.S. and 11% (95% CI=7%, 15%) for Australia. These patterns also were evident for all specific subcategories of illness or problem. For instance, seasonal differences ranged from 7% (95% CI=5%, 10%) for anxiety (followed by OCD, bipolar, depression, suicide, ADHD, schizophrenia) to 37% (95% CI=31%, 44%) for eating disorder queries in the U.S. Several nonclinical motivators for query seasonality (such as media trends or academic interest) were explored and rejected.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC):
“Suicide (i.e., taking one’s own life) is a serious public health problem that affects even young people. For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. It results in approximately 4600 lives lost each year… Each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S.”
It seems, however, that CDC in general is unaware of the seasonality of depression leading to suicide. At least since the lack of sun-exposure (light-therapy in itself is a known remedy towards depression) is not listed among their risk-factors for suicide:
Risk factors of suicide according to CDC:
- History of previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- History of depression or other mental illness
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Stressful life event or loss
- Easy access to lethal methods
- Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Obviously, the initiative by the CDC and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to further reduce teenagers’ access to UV-exposure by discouraging the use of sunbeds is counterproductive to the general health among the American youth because of its promotion of vitamin D deficiency. And now, it seems like we can add more than 15,000 cases of mental health related injuries to the damage caused by the lack of UV-exposure during winter.
Whatever the PR-machine of the anti-tanning lobby is trying to make you believe about the connection between indoor tanning and skin-cancer, no research has been able to prove that regular and moderate (i.e. non-burning) UV-exposure, will increase the risk of malignant melanoma.
Two non-burning session in a sunbed with low-pressure lamps high in UVB (2.5-3% in Europe and 5-7% according to the North-American standard) will give you the same amount of vitamin D and light-therapy as 20 minutes to one hour (depending on your skin-type and base-tan) two days per week around noon on sunny summer-days by the pool somewhere in Florida.
Because of the almost fanatic campaigns against indoor tanning in the USA and certain parts of Europe, there are no recommendations for “vitamin D tanning” (in many places, tanning salons are not allowed to mention the health effects of tanning).
There are, however, recommendations of maximum session-time for each sunbed and for each skin-type of cosmetic tanning (i.e. Darkening of the skin). For “vitamin D tanning” and light-therapy, you need only half of that recommended time.
This means an even further reduction of the risk of sunburn. Sunburn being the only thing which has been statistically shown to marginally increase the risk of malignant melanoma.
So now when the vitamin D winter soon is here (and for many is has already started), why be depressed? Find a tanning salon near you which provides vitamin D tanning and try this proven method to get your vitamin D in the way nature intended it (by exposure to UVB-rays) and light-therapy to improve your mood (i.e. mental health) at the same time.
VitaminDWiki.com has a comprehensive selection of studies confirming the association between vitamin D deficiency and depression:
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with depression in 63 studies,
The association varies between 2X and 10X less depression with high levels of vitamin D
27 intervention clinical trials are attempting to document just how much depression is decreased by vitamin D