Wrinkles Could Mean Weak Bones

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: June 15, 2011

Don’t we already worry too much about our wrinkles? Well, now we’re hearing that more wrinkles could mean weak bones. Apparently, there is a shared relationship between skin and bone health, and new study information, presented at the Endocrine’s Society’s annual meeting, found that having more wrinkles was associated with lower bone mineral density.

It turns out, collagen, which is typically related back to skin health, is also important for bones. Age-related collagen changes, the researchers noted, could explain both the wrinkling and sagging of skin and a simultaneous deterioration of bone quality and quantity. The study is not implying that wrinkled skin is being cited as a cause for poorer skeletal health, but that the two factors are associated. The researchers hypothesized that because skin and bone share the same building blocks, the physical skin changes in menopausal women can relate to bone density and bone quality. So, if a link between wrinkles and bone density is confirmed, it could prompt development of an inexpensive way to identify postmenopausal women at highest risk for fractures.

The study focused on 114 women in their late 40s and early 50s, drawn from the larger Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS). All the participants had entered menopause within three years leading up to the study. No participants were taking hormone therapy, and none had undergone any cosmetic skin procedures. The researchers tested skin firmness in the forehead and cheek region with a device called a durometer, and tallied the number and depth of face and neck wrinkles at 11 sites. To test bone density, researchers used dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and a portable heel ultrasound device.

The results: The firmer the face and forehead, the greater the bone density; the more wrinkles, the lower the bone density. The research also found that having more glabellar wrinkles on the forehead was related to lower bone density at the femoral neck and increasing skin rigidity at the face and the forehead was tied to stronger bones at the hip and spine.

Although additional follow-up and further study is necessary, researchers are optimistic because having such a simple screening tool would be a helpful, very cost-effective option in comparison to say, suffering a fracture. Similarly, it furthers the discussion that estrogen therapy can halt the progression of wrinkles, and therefore possibly decrease the pace of bone loss. In the meantime, continue to exercise, get your Vitamin D/calcium, wear sunscreen and don’t forget to moisturize. And, discuss with your clinician whether he/she recommends a bone mineral density test based on your clinical history and risk factors.

References:

The Endocrine Society Pal L, et al “Skin wrinkling and rigidity are predictive of bone mineral density in early postmenopausal women” ENDO 2011; Abstract P3-126

More information about Bone Health and Menopause

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