Melanoma rates have risen 50% among young women in the United States since 1980, while melanoma rates have remained steady among young men, reported the Los Angeles Times. Researchers theorized that the trend might be related to an increase in the use of tanning beds along with exposure to the sun.

The report in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology analyzed more than 20,000 cases of melanoma in young adults aged 15 to 39 that were reported to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Result program, a database maintained by the National Cancer Institute. They found that the melanoma incidence rate in young women rose to 13.9 per 100,000 in 2004 from 9.4 per 100,000 in 1980.

Researchers said improved detection of early-stage cancers probably accounted for some of the increase in melanoma cases but could not explain all of it.

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