Teenagers who use sun beds are at double the risk of getting the most dangerous form of skin cancer than those who have not been to a tanning salon, warn researchers at the University of Melbourne.
The earlier sunbed use begins, the greater the risk of developing a deadly melanoma before the age of 40, the research revealsed.
It showed that those who start before they turn 20 are 88 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with a deadly melanoma than people who have never used a sunbed.
The research is set to add further weight to the growing campaign for a total ban on sunbeds.
The study involved more than 600 people who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between the ages of 18 and 39.
They found that 23 per cent had used sunbeds at some point in their lives and on average they had started using them at the age of 22.
The risk of developing a melanoma was found to be 41 per cent greater among the sunbed users.
The risk increased the more frequently sunbeds had been used.
If the participants had used a sunbed before the age of 25, the risk of skin cancer compared with 'never users' was 64 per cent higher.
"The message here is compelling," the Daily Mail quoted skin cancer expert Dr Conal Perrett, from The Cadogan Clinic in London, as saying.
"The researchers showed that sunbed use is associated with an increased risk of early-onset melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
"This risk increased with an earlier age at first use. Unfortunately, too many young people continue to use sunbeds without fully appreciating the risks," Perrett was quoted as saying.