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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Longer Life With Moles

To some, moles are beauty spots, while to others they are unsightly blemishes. But anyone with them should count their blessings because scientists claim people with lots of moles are years younger biologically than those with mark-free skin.

They may retain their looks for longer and could be at lower risk of age-related diseases. The findings go some way to balancing out the link between moles and an increased risk of skin cancer. "Dermatologists have always said that nature doesn't give us something for no reason," said lead researcher Dr Veronique Bataille. "If the only reason for moles was to increase the risk of melanoma, it wouldn't be very clever."

Her team, from King's College London, studied the DNA of 900 sets of female twins. In particular, they focused on telomeres, the bundles of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes. Thought of as biological clocks, telomeres get shorter as our cells divide over time. Eventually, they become so short that the cells die.

Previous studies found those with long telomeres were biologically younger than those of the same age with shorter telomeres. This study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, found that those with more than 100 moles tended to have longer telomeres than those with fewer than 25. The difference in length equated to six or seven years of ageing.

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