Obesity may make migraines more likely

THE QUESTION Might how much someone weighs have a bearing on his or her chance of experiencing migraines?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 3,862 adults (average age, 47), including 188 who had occasional migraines, occurring an average of 41 days a year. People who were obese (with a body mass index of 30 or higher) were 81 percent more likely to have migraines than were people of normal weight. The trend was strongest among white women younger than 50. Also, the more obese people were, the greater their odds of having migraines.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Adults who experience migraines — recurring severe headaches characterized by throbbing pain, often on just one side of the head, and sensitivity to light and sounds, sometimes causing nausea. The exact cause of migraines is unclear, and no cure has been found. Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, about 75 percent of them women.

CAVEATS Data on weight and headache frequency came from the participants’ recollections, recorded on questionnaires and from interviews. The authors noted that it’s possible that having migraines may predispose people to developing obesity. Whether weight loss would affect the migraine occurrence rate was not tested.

FIND THIS STUDY Sept. 11 online issue of Neurology.

LEARN MORE ABOUT migraines at www.womenshealth.gov and www.familydoctor.org.

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-
reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.