Extent of facial wrinkles may indicate postmenopausal osteoporosis risk

Recent scientific inquiry conducted at Phoenix's Kronos Longevity Research Institute has indicated that the severity of a postmenopausal woman's facial wrinkles may predict her risk of osteoporosis.

Though it may sound unorthodox, the study is reportedly grounded in rigorous investigation. Scientists presented it in Boston at the 93rd annual conference of the Endocrine Society.

The report was based on data collected in the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS), which followed more than 110 women over the age of 40, all of whom had gone through menopause roughly three years prior.

To qualify for the KEEPS, the participants could not have undergone either hormone replacement therapy or any cosmetic surgery.

Researchers measured the extent and depth of each woman's facial wrinkles and used devices called durometers to test the resistance and elasticity of skin. During the study, the group also tested each participant's bone mass density using dual x-ray absorptiometry tests.

Reproductive endocrinologist Lubna Pal told the conference that her team found a significant correlation between the extent of facial wrinkles and bone loss.

Women with extensive facial wrinkles were much more likely than their postmenopausal peers to suffer from low bone mass, while those with firmer skin tended to have denser bones.

The effect held true regardless of age, body size or site of bone mass measurement, Pal noted. She added that further inquiry may confirm that skin measurements can accurately predict a woman's risk of osteoporosis after menopause.

"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 or the hip, an often fatal injury in older people," she told the convocation.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimates that one-half of women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetimes, as will approximately one in four men of that age.

Such injuries can be quite serious, even life-threatening. The NOF states that 24 percent of individuals age 50 or older who suffer an osteoporosis-related hip fracture will die in the year following the injury.