You know that relaxed, slightly euphoric feeling you have when you leave the tanning salon? It's not just in your head. Believe it or not, tanning is on the growing list of addictive behaviors.

If you tan in a salon, you're not alone. More than one million Americans seek that day-in-the-sun look year-round. Many people believe that using a tanning bed is safer than tanning in the sun, and that a base tan from a tanning bed protects them from sunburn. The tanning salon industry is happy to reinforce this message.

The truth is, tanning beds may actually be worse than the sun. Tanning beds and sun lamps produce primarily ultraviolet-A (UVA) radiation, a probable human cancer-causing agent. In a 1994 study, the American Cancer Society reported that people who began using tanning beds when they were 35 or younger increased their risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, by eightfold. More recently, the Dartmouth Medical School found tanning bed users to be 2.5 times more at risk for squamous cell skin cancer and 1.5 times more at risk for basal cell skin cancer.

Five percent of the rays emitted by tanning beds are UVB rays, which cause sunburn. Exposure to UVB rays also leads to enhanced mental health and reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, Premenstrual Syndrome and depression.

Despite widespread warnings of the link between tanning and skin cancer, people continue to flock to the beach and to tanning beds. Researchers have discovered that many of these dedicated tanners are physically drawn to tanning.

When you tan, your skin gives off endorphins, the same substance released when you drink or get high. Endorphins make you feel good. In studies, when tanners took drugs that blocked endorphins, they experienced withdrawal symptoms. Popular culture has even created a new word to describe this phenomenon: tanorexic.

If an increased risk of skin cancer does not cause you to reconsider your tanning bed habit, consider this: tanning salons are poorly regulated and the few regulations that do exist are not enforced. In one report, the average tanning salon in North Carolina exceeded FDA (Food and Drug Administration) limits by 95 percent.

Tanning beds are addictive and significantly increase your risk for skin cancer. If you want a tan, consider using a fake tanning product. They are effective and considerably safer.