Study Suggests Women with Migraines Have Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Jun 3, 2009 by

Study Suggests Women with Migraines Have Lower Breast Cancer Risk

And, during pregnancy, when estrogen levels are relatively high, the occurrence of migraines decreases. “Among migraine sufferers who reach the third trimester, 80 percent of them will not suffer any migraines,” Dr Li also said.

What Some Experts Say

Is Dr Li’s reasoning sound? Not according to Dr Ellen Drexler, associate director of the Division of Neurology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.

“Migraine brains are more sensitive to many exogenous and endogenous factors, of which falling estrogen levels are an important one for many female migraineurs,” Drexler said. “However, female migraineurs are not known to have consistently lower levels of estrogen than are non-migraineurs.”

Overall, she is not convinced that the link between migraines and lower breast cancer risk can be traced to differing estrogen levels. “Genetic factors may also be playing a role, as well as exogenous factors such as medication use, smoking and alcohol use, which may vary between migraineurs and non-migraineurs,” Dr Drexler said.

“In summary, an interesting study, but more work needs to be done to conclude that it has furthered our understanding of the biology of migraine or of breast cancer,” she added diplomatically.

One person who was less diplomatic with his views was Dr Stephen Silberstein, who is the director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. To him, the findings of the study are flawed because the presence of migraine cannot be determined using self-reported data alone.

“This study doesn’t prove anything. It’s not that I don’t believe the results, it’s that the results are not believable,” he said.


In truth, while the findings of Dr Li’s study may be interesting, it does not seem to have any direct practical implication on what people can do. After all, it’s not like women would deliberately try to get migraines in order to lower their breast cancer risk, nor would migraine sufferers celebrate their condition.

All in all, this study just, perhaps, provides some preliminary information which needs to be further studied, as experts attempt to better understand both migraines and breast cancer.

Main Source

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