Laugh lines may signal serious bone risk

YALE (US) — Severity and distribution of skin wrinkles may offer clues to bone mineral density in early menopausal women, according to a new study.

“Skin and bones share common building blocks-proteins, and aging is accompanied by changes in skin and deterioration of bone quantity and quality,” says Lubna Pal, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Yale University.

Pal studied a subgroup of early menopausal women within three years of their last menstrual period who are enrolled in the ongoing clinical trial, the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS).

The investigators assessed skin wrinkles at 11 locations on the face and neck using a pictoral scale in 114 of the KEEPS participants and assessed skin rigidity at the forehead and the cheek using a device called the durometer. Skeletal mass and density were studied by dual X-ray absorptiometery as well as by a portable heel ultrasound device.

“We found that deepening and worsening skin wrinkles are related to lower bone density among the study participants,” Pal says. “The worse the wrinkles, the lesser the bone density, and this relationship was independent of age or of factors known to influence bone mass.”

In contrast to the skin wrinkles, higher durometer scores-indicating higher skin rigidity-related to better bone density, Pal says.

“Our findings that the appearance and physical properties of the skin can reflect the quality of the skeleton are noteworthy because this may allow clinicians to identify fracture risk in postmenopausal women at a glance without depending on costly tests.”

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