Moles: The more, the merrier in fight against aging, UK study says

August 9, 0007

London - Researchers at King’s College here say they have found that the more moles a person has, the more likely their DNA is to have properties that combat aging, BBC News reports.

London - Researchers at King’s College here say they have found that the more moles a person has, the more likely their DNA is to have properties that combat aging, BBC News reports.

The study, published recently in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, is in direct contrast to the school of thought that links a high mole count to high skin-cancer risk.

According to the study, moles appear in childhood and start disappearing in middle age. When present in large numbers, moles can increase the risk of melanoma. The average number of moles in people with white skin is 30, says the study, but some people may have as many as 400. The reason for such differences in number of moles is unknown, as is the function of moles.

Since moles disappear with age, researchers studied 1,800 twins, looking at the relationship between the number of moles and telomere length in cells, a good indicator of the rate of aging in organs such as the heart, muscle, bones and arteries.

Investigators found that people with more than 100 moles had longer telomeres than people with fewer than 25 moles. The difference between the two mole groups was equivalent to six to seven years of aging.

“The results of this study are very exciting, as they show, for the first time, that ‘moley’ people who have a slightly increased risk of melanoma may, on the other hand, have the benefit of a reduced rate of aging,” the study’s authors write. “This could imply susceptibility to fewer age-related diseases, such as heart disease or osteoporosis, for example.”

Researchers say further studies are needed to confirm the findings.