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Deep skin wrinkles correlated with loss of bone density

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Wrinkles and bone density linked.

New evidence shows a link between severe skin wrinkles and loss of bone density. Researchers say intense skin wrinkling could be a sign of skeletal health that could be used to identify women at risk for fractures from osteoporosis

Lubna Pal, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut says, "In postmenopausal women the appearance of the skin may offer a glimpse of the skeletal well-being, a relationship not previously described.” The findings are presented at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston, Monday, 6/6/2011.

Facial wrinkles and bone health may share a common link

The finding comes from the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study, or KEEPS. Researchers scored facial wrinkles by severity in 114 women in their late 40s and early 50s in early menopause; within three years of their last menstrual period.

A device called a durometer was used to measure skin firmness on the forehead and chin area. The depth of the women’s wrinkles, number of places wrinkles appeared and skin firmness results were compared to bone density in the hip, lumbar spine and heel.

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The results showed deeper wrinkles correlated with lower bone density. Conversely, firm skin was associated with higher bone density.

Low bone density and wrinkles were linked, regardless of other known factors that influence bones mass, including body composition and age.

The reason intense wrinkles seem to be a sign of low density that can lead to osteoporosis and fractures isn’t entirely clear, but the researchers say it may be related to collagens, which are protein that keep both skin and bone healthy.

Dr. Pal said, "Ultimately, we want to know if intensity of skin wrinkles can allow identification of women who are more likely to fracture a bone, especially the femoral neck or the hip, an often fatal injury in older people.

If skin wrinkles can predict loss of bone density, a simple skin examination could help identify those at high risk for osteoporosis and fractures who lack access to bone density testing technology, which is costly.