July 14, 2007
People With Lots Of Moles Age More Slowly?

Wear your moles proudly, knowing you enjoy a biochemical advantage over your less moley brethren.

People with large numbers of moles may age slower than expected, according to a study from King's. Researchers studied the skin and telomere length (a marker of biological ageing found on all cells in the body) of more than 1800 twins and found that people with a high number of moles had longer telomeres.

The 10 year study from the Twin Research Unit was funded by the Wellcome Trust and is published in the July edition of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.


The researchers compared telomere length measurements in white cells with the number of moles in more than 1800 female twins (900 pairs of twins) aged between 18 and 79 years. They found that those with high numbers of moles (greater than 100) had longer telomeres than those with very few moles (fewer than 25). The difference between the two mole groups was equivalent to six to seven years of normal ageing (estimated by looking at the average rate of telomere length loss per year in the whole group). This was not affected by other factors such as age, weight or smoking.

These results suggest those with higher numbers of moles may have a delayed ageing as they have longer telomeres and appear to keep their moles for longer. In contrast, people with shorter telomeres have lower numbers of moles and appear to lose them quicker with age - which may be a marker of accelerated ageing.

Lead researcher Dr Veronique Bataille says: ‘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 ageing. This could imply susceptibility to fewer age-related diseases such as heart disease or osteoporosis, for example. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.'

We need follow-up population studies to measure life expectancy for those who have more and fewer moles. But telomere is a pretty good proxy for rate of aging. On that score see my posts Chronic Stress Accelerates Aging As Measured By Telomere Length and Telomere Length Indicates Mortality Risk.

If the melanin content of moles slows down general body aging why is that? After all, most of the body is not moles. Even most of the skin is not moles. So how could the presence of moles confer much protective effect? Are the moles a proxy for more melanin inside the body?

Could we slow the rate of aging by inducing most of our cells to produce more melanin?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 July 14 09:02 PM  Aging Studies

rsilvetz said at July 14, 2007 9:23 PM:

It's not about the melanin.

A mole is a tumor that didn't escape into uncontrolled growth.

This bespeaks of strong genetic controls on genetic instability.

It is interesting to see that this trait has life-lengthening effects relative to controls.

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