Monday, June 6, 2011

Low-tech Bone Density Test Could Cut Health Care Costs

A paper presented today at the 93rd annual Endocrine Society meeting in Boston describes a possible link between bone density and facial wrinkles in women. The study's principal investigator, Lubna Pal, MD, looked at the number and depth of face and neck wrinkles and facial skin firmness in 114 post-menopausal women in their 40s and 50s.

Pal and her colleagues found that the women with fewer wrinkles and firmer skin also had greater bone density. Bone density was measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and by ultrasound ("Severity of facial wrinkles may predict bone density in early menopause"). Skin wrinkles and bone density may be related because collagens that are present in both bones and skin change with age, Pal stated. In the future, measuring wrinkles could be a low-cost method of evaluating bone fracture risk in older women, Pal said.

Today, we face both the enormous expense of treating chronic diseases, costs which consume about three-quarters of the U.S. health care budget, and a large aging population poised to strain or end Medicare. Health care providers will probably increasingly turn to low-cost tests such as the wrinkle test, effective generic medications, and wellness campaigns to help manage their patients' health.

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