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

Some basics about migraine
By Sue Mueller
Nov 8, 2008 - 3:55:57 PM

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Migraine might reduce the risk of breast cancer according to 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 found 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.   But not all scientists agree on such an explanation.

Below are some basics about migraine from a government document

What is migraine?


Migraine is a condition that results in headaches on one or two sides of the head and possibly nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sounds. People with a migraine headache may feel pain in the temples, or behind one eye or ear.


Migraine can occur any time of the day and last a few hours or up to one or two days. The condition does not pose a serious threat to health, but can seriously affect your day-to-day life. This is the most common form of headache that sends patients to see their doctors.


Migraine can affect both women and men, but mostly those age 15 to 55.


How common are migraines?


It is estimated that migraine pain and symptoms affect 29.5 million Americans.   Migraine affects women more often than men.


What causes migraines?


Like many other diseases or disorders, the exact cause of migraine remains unknown.   But triggers that lead to migraines include lack of or too much sleep, skipped meals, bright lights, loud noises, or strong odors, hormone changes during the menstrual cycle, stress and anxiety, or relaxation after stress, weather changes, alcohol (often red wine), caffeine (too much or withdrawal), foods that contain nitrates, such as hot dogs and lunch meats, foods that contain MSG (monosodium glutamate), a flavor enhancer found in fast foods, broths, seasonings, and spices, foods that contain tyramine, such as aged cheeses, soy products, fava beans, hard sausages, smoked fish, and Chianti wine, and aspartame (NutraSweet® and Equal®).


Are there different kinds of migraine?


There are two forms of migraine, migraine with aura and migraine without aura. With the former, a person may experience sensory symptom 10 to 30 minutes before an attack like seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spot; numbness, or tingling in the face or bands; disturbed sense of smell, taste or touch; and feeling mentally fuzzy.   Only one in five people with migraine experience an aura.


How can I tell if I have a migraine or just a bad tension-type headache?


Headache from migraine is often more severe.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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