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Skin cancer greatest threat for young women

"Binge tanning" and increased use of sunbeds are thought to be behind the rise in deadly form of skin cancer – malignant melanoma – in young women

"Binge tanning" and increased use of sunbeds are thought to be the main reasons behind the fact that the deadliest form of skin cancer – malignant melanoma – has become the most common cancer for British women in their 20s, according to figures from Cancer Research UK.

Latest figures, from 2005, show around 340 women in their 20s are diagnosed with this potentially fatal form of skin cancer in a year. And for women in their 30s, melanoma is now the third most common cancer after that of the breast and cervix.

Around 50 women under the age of 40 die from melanoma each year. Overall, the disease kills around 1,800 people annually, but rates are set to rise. By 2024, Cancer Research UK statisticians predict that malignant melanoma will be the fourth most common cancer for men and women of all ages, rising from around 9,000 cases diagnosed each year now to more than 15,500.

Caroline Cerny, from Cancer Research UK, said: "Spending time on sunbeds is just as dangerous as staying out too long in the sun. Sunbeds don't offer a safe way to tan. The intensity of UV rays in some sunbeds can be more than 10 times stronger than the midday sun."

A Cancer Research UK survey of 4,000 people in 2008 revealed that one woman in three had used a sunbed. Research shows that using sunbeds under the age of 35 can increase the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent.

8th April 2009

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