Regular skin tanning through techniques like sun beds could raise the risk of a type of skin cancer called melanoma in adolescent girls, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne has revealed.

Australian researchers studied more than 600 people diagnosed with skin cancer between the ages of 18 and 39 to examine the potential dangers of the popular tanning techniques. Among the study group, 23 percent had used sun beds to modify their complexion with most opting for the artificial technique at the age of 22.

Investigators noted that the risk of developing melanoma was higher by as much as 41 percent among frequent users of the sun bed.

The risk of developing melanoma was as high as 64 percent for youngsters who began indoor tanning before they reached 25 years. It was higher at 88 percent for women who exposed themselves to tanning before the age of 20 compared to those girls who never used skin tanning techniques.

Youngsters under the age of 25 are more vulnerable to the dangers of ultraviolet radiation emitted more intensely from sun beds than natural daylight, say researchers.

The message here is compelling. The researchers showed that sun bed use is associated with an increased risk of early-onset melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. This risk increased depending upon the age at which the women made first use of it.

Unfortunately, too many young people continue to use sun beds without fully appreciating the risks, says skin cancer expert Dr. Conal Perrett from the Cadogan Clinic in London.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and manifests in the form of a malignant tumor that originates in melanocytes, the cells which produce the pigment melanin that colors our skin, hair, and eyes. A majority of melanomas are black or brown. However, some melanomas are skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

The cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it is known to cause the most deaths.