Do you have wrinkles? Well if you do, you may also have a low bone density according to a new study presented at this week’s Endocrine Society annual meeting. These conditions are related, but it is not known if there is a cause and effect relationship. However both bone and skin health has the same founding collagens, so that could be the connection. However, Vitamin D helps bone density, while decaying the skin so levels of sun exposure are in question.

Age-related collagen changes could explain both the wrinkling and sagging of skin and a simultaneous deterioration of bone quality and quantity.

There are more than 25 types of collagens that naturally occur in the body. Collagen is one of the most plentiful proteins present in the bodies of mammals, including humans. In fact, it makes up about 25% of the total amount of proteins in the body. Some people refer to collagen as the glue that holds the body together. Without it, the body would, quite literally, fall apart.

Dr. Lubna Pal, a reproductive endocrinologist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven stated:

“We hypothesized that because skin and bone share common tissue architecture, the physical attributes of skin in menopausal women will relate to bone density and bone quality. And what we found is consistent with that hypothesis.”

According to the Arthritis Foundation, about half of all bone loss women experience in a lifetime occurs during the first decade following menopause.

More than 100 women in their late 40s and early 50s were analyzed. All the participants had entered menopause within the three years leading up to the study. No participants were taking hormone therapy, and none had undergone any cosmetic skin procedures.

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 in different parts of the body, researchers used dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and a portable heel ultrasound device.

The key finding was that the firmer the face and forehead, the greater the bone density; the more wrinkles, the lower the bone density in the back and feet to be specific.

Pal continues to explain:

“This is very preliminary data. Right now we’re just at the tip of the iceberg, and we have one more year to study these women before the trial is completed. So we’re hoping to make sense of these observations in a much more meaningful manner as we move ahead.”

Dr. Elton Strauss, an associate professor and chief of orthopedic trauma and adult reconstruction at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City feels even though this connection is in its early stages, it still may be significant:

“People who have skin wrinkles usually spend a lot of time in the sun, and that promotes the development of a lot of vitamin D, which is good for bone health. So I would have thought we might see just the opposite effect. This is just the beginning of something — maybe. But I don’t think you can hang your hat on it. Much more information is needed to validate the findings.”

Sources: The Arthritis Foundation and The Endocrine Society

Written by Sy Kraft