Beauty may be only skin deep, but a new study that looks at women’s wrinkles could have some substantial benefits, making it easier to detect poor bone health without relying on special X-ray tests.
Dr. Lubna Pal, a reproductive endocrinologist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, has found that the worse a woman’s skin wrinkles are during the first few years of menopause, the lower her bone density.
“In post-menopausal women, the appearance of the skin may offer a glimpse of the skeletal well-being,” she said in a statement.
Pal said the association could partly be explained by the fact that both skin and bones are built by collagens, a group of proteins. Changes in collagen as we age may be the reason for wrinkles and sagging skin. The changes may also contribute to worsening bone density.
Pal said the results of the study may make it possible to identify post-menopausal women at a glance who are at risk of a fracture without depending on expensive bone-density tests.
Currently, bone density can be assessed by a special test called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
“Including the study of skin wrinkles to other clinical risk factors may allow identification of fracture risk in populations that do not have access to more costly technology,” Pal said.
Bone density is linked to the amount of minerals in the bones.
Bones in children and young adults renew their mineral deposits faster than they deteriorate. After reaching peak bone mass in young adulthood, however, bone density begins to naturally decrease.
Decreasing bone density can result in osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Canada’s website says as many as two million Canadians have the disease, including one in four women over the age of 50. Men are also affected by it, but in smaller numbers.
Hip fractures result in death in as many as 20 per cent of cases, and disability in 50 per cent of those who survive.
More than 100 women in their early 40s and 50s who had recently entered menopause were tested for the study.
Pal and her team found that the worse the wrinkles, the lower the bone density in the hip, lumbar spine and heel.
Age and body composition of the subjects did not affect the connection.
The researchers also found that firmer skin on the face and forehead was associated to greater bone density.
- No joke! Laugh lines may reveal bone density (msnbc.msn.com)
- Facial wrinkles linked to weaker bones in new study (cbsnews.com)