Even as the rates of some cancers are falling, Mayo Clinic is seeing an alarming trend: the dramatic rise of skin cancer, especially among people under 40.

Massage therapists are on the front lines of helping prevent skin cancer, by noticing suspicious moles and lesions on clients’ skin.

The researchers speculate that the use of indoor tanning beds is a key culprit in the rising cancer rate in young people.

The researchers looked for first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients 18 to 39 from 1970 to 2009. The study found the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men.

“A recent study reported that people who use indoor tanning beds frequently are 74-percent more likely to develop melanoma, and we know young women are more likely to use them than young men,” Jerry Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, said in a press release.

Despite abundant information about the dangers of tanning beds, he adds, young women continue to use them.

“The results of this study emphasize the importance of active interventions to decrease risk factors for skin cancer and, in particular, to continue to alert young women that indoor tanning has carcinogenic effects that increase the risk of melanoma,” Brewer said.

The study was published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Related articles:

MTs on the Front Line of Skin Cancer Prevention

Raise Clients’ Melanoma Awareness

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