You may know that a wrinkle is not just a wrinkle. The visual signs of aging are, in fact, a reflection of internal health. Looking older than one’s age is associated with heart, lung, and kidney diseases—and these are only the conditions that have actually been investigated. Since looking old for one’s age is associated with an increased risk of mortality, or dying earlier, Other chronic medical conditions also are almost certainly associated with an increased risk of the visible signs of aging. The AGE story provides even more proof of this concept.
Blood and skin levels of AGEs have been linked to age-related diseases for a number of years. Interestingly, the kidney is a primary route of Advanced Glycation End elimination from the body, and any slowdown in filtration will give more AGEs an extended opportunity to do damage. Skin AGE levels also correlate with kidney function, and higher skin AGEs, as you would imagine, are associated with decreased kidney function.
Until recently, skin measurements for Advanced Glycation End content were performed by use of biopsy. A new area of investigation is the use of a nonin¬vasive AGE reader developed by European scientists. In 1997, researchers from the Netherlands serendipitously discovered that skin AGEs can be measured through light reflected back from the skin. With the AGE Reader, illuminating light enters the skin and the amount of AGEs present in the skin layers influence the absorption of light.
Over the last decade, researchers have shown that the Advanced Glycation End Reader ( AGE Reader ) is a reliable way to measure overall risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and, of course, diabetic complications. Again, one need not actually have diabetes to see an associa¬tion with high skin-AGE content and internal ill-health via the AGE Reader assessment. The reliability and simplicity of the device’s use have driven dermatologists’ interest, and the AGE Reader is destined for North American dermatology offices.
The higher the skin AGE content, the more likely you are to have fragmented collagen, disturbed elastin, and a weak dermal structure. The higher your skin AGE content, the higher your oxidative stress and inflammation burden, and obviously, the more likely you will be to have a wrinkled appearance. Finally, the higher the skin AGE content, the more likely you will be to have an early progression of age-related diseases—heart, kidney, lung, brain, and other—initiated in the body.
A new study in the journal Experimental Gerontology (2008) is quite alarming because it showed much higher skin AGE levels among overweight young people. This connection was not without consequence because overweight adults less than forty years old were also more likely to have impaired skin elasticity based on objective testing. This does not bode well for the future: Spanish researchers have also shown that young adults are most likely to be drawn to a high-preformed AGE diet via fast and convenient foods.
Worse still is a 2008 ComPsych study showing that only 18 percent of corporate workers in their thirties had a diet consisting of healthy foods and only 20 percent were exercising on a regular basis. Combined with UV exposure and EMF from the wireless world, this creates the perfect storm for a new generation with AGE-induced wrinkle enhancement.