Researchers in the U.S. say that among women under age 40, there has been triple the number of cases of skin cancers reported.
The rise in incidence of two types of skin cancer – basal cell and squamous cell – rose to 32 per 100,000 women under 40 in 2003 from 13 per 100,000 in the late 1970.
Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the two most common forms of the disease and can be removed and treated more easily than the deadlier melanoma type.
But the researchers say the rise in numbers is an indication that tanning is still popular among the young despite warnings about the harm it can cause.
It is clear that a tan is still accepted as a sign of health and a sign of beauty.
Study author Dr. Leslie Christenson of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says that it is important to change that message and to accept fair skin as healthy and beautiful.
In the study the researchers looked at some 500 skin cancer cases in surrounding Olmsted County, Minnesota, where the population’s comprehensive health records are examined as part of the clinic’s Rochester Epidemiology Project.
Christenson says that they found that young women in particular still use tanning beds and lie in the sun despite health warnings about skin damage from the sun.
According to the study, the incidence of basal cell cancers among men under 40, did not increase though the rate of squamous cell cancers did.
Christenson believes that men probably do not pay as much attention to their skin as women, and might not spot the tell-tale discolored bumps as often.
In general basal cell cancer usually appears as a pink bump on the skin, which can be superficial or bleed and does not go away.
Squamous cell cancer can also look very pink, but it is usually scaly and appears as a rough, raised bump.
In the United States alone there were 800,000 new cases of basal cell and 200,000 cases of squamous cell cancers diagnosed in the year 2000.
Apparently cases are also increasing rapidly in people over age 50.
The report is published in the JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.