An obsession with looking tanned is putting a large number of teenage girls in Liverpool at risk of cancer, a study claims.
The joint research by Liverpool Primary Care Trust and the Merseyside and Cheshire Cancer Network (MCCN) involving 13 to 15-year-olds from schools on Merseyside shows teenage girls are using sunbeds with dangerous regularity.
Paul Mackenzie, of the MCCN, said: "Within the schools there appeared to be a culture of peer pressure for children to be tanned, extending to bullying in some cases for those children with very pale skin.
"There was a very good awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer but not about the dangers of sunbeds.
"Teachers now have more information to pass on to their pupils about the health risks."
Dr Paula Grey, director of public health for Liverpool, added: "These figures are alarming and prove the obsession some teenagers have with looking tanned when it is far healthier to be pale and interesting.
"There is also a responsibility of the owners of sunbed shops to protect young people from the obvious risks."
The study also shows teenagers are rarely asked for proof of their age before using sunbeds