Being Under or Overweight Can Increase Risk for Migraines

Under Or Overweight Can Increase Risk For Migraines - Picture of a Woman having Migraines
Published On: May 15th, 2017
Categories: News, Pain, Study
1.4 min read

While science has advanced the understanding, treatment, and prevention of migraines far beyond that of the pre-scientific era, many avenues of research remain. However, a new study has shown that being either under or overweight can increase a person’s risk for developing the painful, often debilitating condition that has plagued humankind since it was first described in Babylonian documents 5,000 years ago.

Published in the journal Neurology in May 2017, a meta-analysis conducted by Bezu Gelaye and colleagues pooled data from 12 studies involving close to 290,000 research participants. Results demonstrated a 13 percent increase in risk for those with a BMI under 18.5 and a 27 percent increase in risk for those with a BMI over 30.

For context, researchers conducting the meta-analysis considered the link between body weight and migraine risk to be moderate and similar to the link between migraines and ischemic heart disease and/or a migraine and bipolar disorder.

The meta-analysis also showed that obesity and the occurrence of migraines are more common among women and in younger people. But the authors say more research would be necessary to determine why, and whether helping people to establish and maintain a healthy weight would lower the risk for developing migraines.

It is presently estimated that migraines affect more than 700 million people worldwide, and that attacks can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. In addition to pain, migraines also cause nausea, vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia – the latter being an aversion to sound that can extend to the sound of one’s own voice.

Written by: MaryAnne Pankhurst

Bizu Gelaye, PhD, Simona Sacco, MD, Wendy J. Brown, PhD, Haley L. Nitchie, BS,

Raffaele Ornello, MD and B. Lee Peterlin, DO

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