Could moles be the key to looking young?
Despite polite attempts to call them beauty spots, most moles are seen as unsightly blemishes.
But anyone covered in them should apparently be counting their blessings - blotch by blotch.
Scientists claim that those with lots of moles are years younger biologically than those with mark-free skin.
They may retain their youthful looks for longer and could be at lower risk of a host of age-related diseases such as heart disease or osteoporosis.
The findings might explain why supermodel Cindy Crawford, known for a mole above her lips, looks far younger than her 41 years.
And they go some way to balancing out the link between moles and an increased risk of skin cancer.
Lead researcher Dr Veronique Bataille, a consultant dermatologist, said:
"Dermatologists have always said that nature doesn't give us something for no reason. 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, made the link between moles and ageing after studying the DNA of more than 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 have found that those with long telomeres tend to be biologically younger than those of the same age but 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.
It is thought that having long telomeres allows the pigmented cells that form moles to divide for longer, increasing the number of marks on the body. Dr Bataille added that even though a person is ten times more likely to develop skin cancer if they have more than 100 moles, the overall risk of the disease is still very low.
Could moles be the key to looking young? | the Daily Mail