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Dotted All Over? - Count Yourself Lucky

According to researchers, the more number of blemishes or moles you have, the slower you age .

Researchers at King's College London compared key ageing DNA with the number of moles in a study of 1,800 twins, at the Twin Research Unit of Kings College. They found that the more moles a person had, the more likely their DNA was to have the properties to fight off ageing. Cause for the spotted to rejoice, as this is in spite of the fact that moles are linked with a higher chance of melanoma or skin cancer.

Moles are growths on the skin, usually dark, that develop from melanocytes, pigment-producing cells. They may be considered blemishes or beauty marks, depending on their size and location. They vary in size and may be flat or raised, smooth or rough.

Accordingly, almost everyone has at least 10 moles, which generally develop in childhood or adolescence and tend to disappear from middle age. The average number in people with white skin is 30 but some people can have as many as 400.

Moles can occasionally turn cancerous. Nearly half of all malignant melanomas begin in moles so one that looks suspicious should be removed.

Says lead researcher Dr. Veronique Bataille: "The results 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."

Since moles disappear with age Bataille's team looked at their relationship with telomere length, a good biological indicator of an individual's rate of ageing. Telomeres are protective bundles of DNA found at the end of chromosomes in all cells. As cells divide, the telomeres shorten until a point where the chromosomes become unstable. The cell may then stop dividing or die.

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