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Young women at risk of skin cancer

The most common type of cancer suffered by women in their 20s is the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to a charity.

The latest figures from Cancer Research UK show that almost one woman in her 20s is diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the UK every day, with the yearly rate standing at 340.

Experts blame the large number, almost double the figure diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s, on the current sunbed culture and practice of "binge tanning" while on holiday.

A survey of 4,000 people carried out last year found that one in three women had used a sunbed at some point in their lives, with 80% first using one when they were under the age of 35.

It is thought that using a sunbed under the age of 35 raises the risk of melanoma in women by as much as 75%.

Fatal skin cancer is now the third most common cancer for women in their 30s – after breast and cervical cancer – and people of all ages are warned to avoid sunbeds and use a high factor sun lotion in the sun.

Caroline Cerny, campaign manager for Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign, said: "Excessive exposure to UV damages the DNA in skin cells, which increases the risk of skin cancer and makes skin age faster."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Cancer Research UK

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I have Reynauld's syndrome, which is a circulatory/rheuamtic disease. Since there was no medication available my doctors recommended sunbed treatment 3 times a week ... when I was 10 years old. Not only did it not work, they're now telling me it might have caused melanoma. Great. On the plus side it means I'm more careful in sunny weather." - Jessica M, Durham

"I'm 22, never used a sunbed and have never felt the desire or need to. I tan easily in the sun, and always use suntan lotion when I'm away in another country. Perhaps my mistake is not using it whilst in the UK. Either way, I think its about time this issue was raised, cancer is not worth any cosmetic rubbish girls think they need. If they have lost someone due to cancer, I'd imagine they would all agree!" - Name and address supplied