You already know that having lots of moles boosts your risk for skin cancer. But according to a new study, women with lots of moles may also be more likely to develop breast cancer, according to the journal PLOS Medicine.
In the study of more than 164,000 women, researchers found that women with 15 or more moles on one arm were 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer over the next 24 years compared to women without any skin spots.
But know this: The research doesn’t suggest that moles directly influence your risk for breast cancer. Rather, researchers believe the two conditions may share a hormonal link. The same hormones that could contribute to breast cancer could also play a role in mole devlopment. In fact, the researchers found that women with six or more moles had higher levels of estrogen than women without moles—and excess estrogen may fuel certain types of breast cancer.
Future studies will investigate how moles may factor into a woman’s overall breast cancer assessment. For now, no matter how many moles you have, visit a dermatologist for a full-body scan once a year, and if you notice any changes in a mole get it checked out ASAP. Also, discuss with your doctor when you should begin breast cancer screenings based on your age, risk factors, and family history.