Moles and Aging
A recent study found that women with the most moles also had younger skin cells. The researchers compared the number of moles that a woman had with the length of cell telomeres, which are the DNA at the end of chromosomes. When cells age, these telomeres continue to get shorter. Women with more moles had cells with longer telomeres, meaning their skin cells were younger. The statistics showed a six- to seven-year difference in the aging of the cells between women with the most moles and women with the fewest moles. Researchers haven't established if these findings have any clinical implications, but they do represent a significant development in skin aging research [source: Bakalar].
Causes of Skin Moles
Moles are common skin growths that result from a natural process in the skin. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives skin, hair and the irises of the eyes their color. In the skin, melanin is produced in cells called melanocytes located in the two upper layers of the skin. Melanocytes tend to be spread evenly throughout the skin, giving the skin its natural color. When exposed to the sun, melanocytes produce more melanin, darkening the skin with a suntan [source: National Cancer Institute]. When melanocytes don't distribute evenly and instead grow in clusters, moles form [source: Mayo Clinic].
Moles can form anywhere on the body, but they tend to grow more often on areas exposed frequently to the sun, such as the hands, arms, chest, neck and face [source: Cleveland Clinic]. Normally, moles form in the first 20 years of a person's life, though some may grow later. Some moles, especially dysplastic ones, are thought to be influenced by genetics.
Most nevi are a common occurrence that shouldn't cause a person concern. As moles evolve over a person's lifetime, however, they may present problems. Read on to find out how.