Are you planning to hit the tanning salon to bronze your skin for the upcoming bathing suit season? If you are, you may want to think again.


There's been a dramatic hike in skin cancer rates among women under the age of 40. While new cases of the most common skin cancers are declining, melanoma cases are on the rise. That's according to research by the Mayo Clinic.

"Tanning beds became increasingly popular in the late 1980s," said Dr. Jerod Stapleton, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. "If there was a link between cancer and tanning beds, you'd start to see melanoma rates increase in the groups that are using them and that's exactly what we're starting to see. Even one single tanning session can cause permanent skin damage. That's not only skin cancer. It can also cause increased photo aging and things like that."

If you have a spot on your skin, Stapleton recommends using the 'A-B-C-Ds" of melanoma to determine whether it should be checked out. If the spot is asymmetrical, has a jagged border, an unusual color or a diameter larger than a pencil eraser, Stapleton says it could be melanoma.

"If you really want to get tan for an occasion or something along those lines, I personally recommend sunless tanning options. You can go to your local store and get some lotions. Many salons now offer really nice spray tans. They may have gotten a bad rap when they first came out a few years ago, but technology has drastically improved the quality. The sunless options give you that look without damaging your skin," said Stapleton.

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