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Wrinkles May Predict Woman’s Risk Of Bone Fracture

June 7, 2011

Wrinkles on a woman’s face during the first few years of menopause may predict her risk of suffering from bone fractures, according to a study released at the Endocrine Society’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.

The study found that the worse a woman’s skin wrinkles, the lower her bone density is.

“In Postmenopausal women the appearance of the skin may offer a glimpse of the skeletal well-being, a relationship not previously described,” says Lubna Pal, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine.

The study examined 114 women in their late 40s and early 50s, whose last menstrual period was within three years, and who were not on any hormone medication. Women who have had plastic surgery were excluded from the study.

The participants’ skin was measured at 11 locations on the face and neck. The firmness or rigidity was measured at the forehead and the cheek using a device called a durometer. In addition, their bone density was measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and by a portable heel ultrasound device.

Results found that the higher the score and the worse the wrinkles, the lower the bone density.

“We found that deepening and worsening skin wrinkles are related to lower bone density among the study participants,” Pal says.

In addition, researchers found that firmer skin of the face and forehead meant greater bone density.

Pal explains that bones and skin share common proteins known as collagens. Changes in collagen occur as we age that may affect related skin changes such as worsening skin wrinkles and sagging skin, which can also contribute to deterioration in bone quality and quantity, Pal says.

“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,” she says.

“If this is the case, then 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 says that more long-term studies are necessary to further link the relationship between wrinkles and the risk of bone fracture.

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