Could Wrinkles Predict Fracture Risk?

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In a health breakthrough within the folds of osteoporosis, Yale University researchers have just uncovered a surprising link. It may lead to changes in doctors' advice for women who have wrinkles.In a health breakthrough within the folds of osteoporosis, Yale University researchers have just uncovered a surprising link. It may lead to changes in doctors’ advice for women who have wrinkles.

Wrinkles are a telltale sign of aging, and they might also be able to predict a woman’s bone fracture risk, according to the new study. It found that the severity and distribution of skin wrinkles and overall skin quality could tell the story of bone mineral density in early menopausal women.

The findings were presented last week at the Endocrine Society Meeting in Boston.

There are common building blocks among both skin and bones, and aging is accompanied by changes in skin and deterioration of bone quantity and quality. The theory was that, in postmenopausal women, the quality of an individual woman’s skin — the degree of wrinkling and hardening — would reflect the status of her bones.

Pal and her research team studied this theory in a subgroup of early menopausal women. The investigators assessed skin wrinkles at 11 locations on the face and neck and assessed skin rigidity at the forehead and the cheek. They also studied skeletal mass and density.

They found that deepening and worsening skin wrinkles are related to lower bone density among the study participants. The worse the wrinkles, the lesser the bone density, and this relationship held true in the presence of other risk factors for bone loss.

The opposite held true: greater skin rigidity was related to better bone density.

This is helpful because now physicians may be able to identify fracture risk in postmenopausal women at a glance, rather than running their patients through a battery of tests. And it is very helpful for women as well. If you have increasing wrinkles, which is just a normal sign of aging, know that your bones need to be considered. Work with your doctor to take steps to strengthen your bones, which of course means a close focus on vitamin D and calcium from a nutrition standpoint.

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