Breast cancer risk lower in migraine sufferers
Thu Jul 9, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For women there may be one good thing about
having migraines: a reduced risk of breast cancer.

In a study of more than 9,000 people, Dr. Christopher I. Li of Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center in Seattle and his colleagues found that those with a
history of migraines were 26% less likely to develop breast cancer. The findings
back up an earlier study, also by Li and his team, which included about 2,000
women and found a 33% lower breast cancer risk among women with migraines.

Low estrogen levels appear to increase the severity and frequency of migraines
in women, the researchers note in their report, while increased levels of the
hormone are known to boost breast cancer risk, so it's "biologically plausible"
that migraine sufferers would be less prone to breast cancer.

In the current study, Li and his team compared 4,568 women with breast
cancer, ranging in age from 34 to 64, to 4,678 healthy controls. They
accounted for the effects of migraine triggers such as alcohol, smoking or
hormone use, which hadn't been done in the previous study.

The researchers found a 26% lower risk of breast cancer in the women with
migraines, which didn't change when they took migraine triggers or whether or
not a woman was menopausal into account. Similarly, use of prescription drugs
for migraine did not change the risk.

Migraine patients' greater use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDS), painkillers including ibuprofen and naproxen, could explain some, but
probably not all, of their lower breast cancer risk, Li and his colleagues say. (A
recent analysis of several studies linked NSAID use to 12% lower breast cancer
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