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Tanning beds may be to blame for skin cancer spike

A dramatic rise in skin cancer cases, especially among people under 40, could be linked to the growing popularly of indoor tanning beds, according to researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The research team, led by Jerry Brewer, looked at the number of cases of melanoma diagnosed in patients aged 18 to 39 from 1970 to 2009 in Olmsted County, Minn. The analysis revealed incidences of melanoma increased eightfold among women and fourfold among men.

Although the study, published this month in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, was not designed to determine the underlying reasons for the spike in cases, Dr. Brewer speculated that the increasing use of tanning beds could be responsible. The beds emit high levels of UVA rays that can trigger skin cancer.

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Meanwhile, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Dermatology Association have been calling for laws that restrict the use of tanning beds by young people.

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