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General Health : Diseases Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

No pain no gain? Migraine reduces breast cancer risk
By David Liu, Ph.D.
Nov 6, 2008 - 1:21:36 PM

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Thursday November 6, 2008 ( -- News media suggest that migraine might reduce the risk of breast cancer citing a new study that has found an association between high incidence of migraine and lower risk of the disease.


The study led by Dr. Christopher I. Li from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle showed that women who had migraine were at 30 percent lower risk for breast cancer than those who did not have the condition.


The study involved 3,412 postmenopausal women of whom 1,938 had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,474 had no history of the disease.   The researchers wanted to see the incidence of migraine in these two groups.


One possibility for this link is that according to the researchers those who experienced migraine had lower levels of estrogen, which at a higher level is a risk factor for breast cancer.


Dr. Ellen Drexler at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., does not buy such an explanation saying cited by that migraine brains are more sensitive to many exogenous and endogenous factors.  


Although falling estrogen levels are one of the causes, but it is not known that female migraine suffers always have lower levels of estrogen than those who do not experience thid condition, Dr. Drexler was cited as saying.


Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society was cited as saying that this study would result in no implications implying that you can use migraine to reduce breast cancer even if migraine is the cause for the reduction in breast cancer.


Dr. Stephen Silberstein at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia said flatly that the study was flawed because the migraine data were self-reported and they were not trustworthy enough to be used in a study anyway.


Regardless, the current study merely established an association between the incidence of migraine and risk of developing breast cancer.   The results did not mean to say the association is a causal relation.


The study was published in the November 2008 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.


A health observer who did not want to be named suggested that the association could really mean something.   He agreed that women who experienced migraine are more sensitive to some environmental factors that trigger the episodes of migraine.   Because of these women may be more likely than others to avoid some risk factors for migraine which may happen to be also risk for breast cancer.


For instance, we know migraine may be caused by a number of risk factors including stress, alcohol, caffeine, nitrates in hot dogs and lunch meats, MSG, tyramine in aged cheeses, soy products, fava beans, hard sausages, smoked fish and aspartame in Nutrasweet and Equal. Some of these factors are recognized risk factors cancer.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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