Wrinkles can be a natural part of the aging process, and many people will go to great lengths to avoid or cover them, but they could be about more than just one’s appearance. In fact, did you know that if you are a woman in your 40s or 50s with significant skin wrinkling, then you could have lower bone density? That's what a new study says.
Of course, more research needs to be done, but this new study that was presented in early June at the Endocrine Society in Boston says that skin wrinkling, including laugh lines, crow’s feet and other telltale wrinkles could signal lower bone density and increased fracture risk.
Study researcher, Dr. Lubna Pal, a reproductive endocrinologist at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, says, “This information may allow for the possibility of identifying postmenopausal women at fracture risk at a glance, without dependence on costly tests. Dr. Pal and other colleagues studied 114 women in their late 40s to early 50s who became postmenopausal within the past three years and were not participating in any hormone therapy drugs. If any woman had undergone any cosmetic surgery, then she was excluded from the study.
The researchers scored each woman according to the number of sites with wrinkles and the depth of wrinkles on her face and neck. Also, using a durometer, the scientists measured the women’s skin firmness, while also measuring their bone densities by using an X-ray analysis.
The result? The scientists found that women with worse skin wrinkling had lower bone density than women with smoother skin—faces and necks—with firmer skin in those areas associated with greater bone density. Interestingly, this relationship between wrinkles and bone density was consistent in all of the bones the scientists tested, including the hip, lumbar spine and heel. These results were also independent of age, percentage of body fat and other factors known to influence bone density, said Pal.
It’s no wonder there is this correlation, though. Skin and bones have “building blocks” in common—a group of proteins called collagens. As a person ages, changes in those collagen levels can lead to sagging skin, skin wrinkling as well as bone deterioration, says Pal.
Pal concludes, “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 (the uppermost part of the thighbone that, when fractured, often results in surgery) or the hip, an often fatal injury in older people," she said. If this is the case, then including the study of skin wrinkles with other clinical risk factors may allow doctors to identify those at risk even without more costly technology.”
So, if you’re a woman in her 40s to 50s, you may want to take a good look in the mirror. What you see on your skin could tell you about your bone health.