The researchers at Mayo Clinic suspect the rise can partly be attributed to the craze for tanning under the sun. What's alarming is that the incidence of cancer was found to be many times higher in women than in men.

"The most striking finding was among women in that age group," said dermatologist Jerry Brewer of Mayo Clinic and principal investigator of the study."Women between 40 and 50 showed the highest rates of increase we have seen in any group so far," he added.

Brewer's team conducted a population-based study and found that among white, non-Hispanic adults in the 40-60 age group, the incidence of skin cancer increased 4.5 times among men and 24 times among women. In particular, women under 50 showed a marked increase in melanoma - a less common but dangerous type of skin cancer - a finding that may prompt future studies of a pre-menopausal hormonal connection to the disease.

The rise, researchers speculate, may be connected to the popularization of tanning beds in the 1980s and 1990s."There's been a cultural trend for many decades in which people connect being tan with being fit and even successful," explained Brewer.

This trend could be one of the reasons that melanoma has become so prevalent in the groups he has studied. Even though women were more likely to develop melanoma, men were more likely to have deeper lesions. Another significant finding was that the overall chances of surviving melanoma increased by seven percent each year of the study.

"The improved survival rates may be due to increased public awareness, more frequent screenings and detection of skin cancer at earlier stages," added Brewer.

Skin cancer can be prevented by avoiding the use of tanning beds, using sunscreen and checking in with your dermatologist annually, said the study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.


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