Women coping with migraine headaches may receive a payoff in the form of protection from another disease with a hormonal component—breast cancer.
A follow-on study to research published last year has identified a 26% reduction in risk of breast cancer among women with a clinical diagnosis of migraines, compared with women who had no migraine history. This finding is consistent with the 33% reduction in risk of invasive ductal breast carcinomas observed in the earlier study.
The latest research evaluated the association between migraine history and breast cancer risk by studying data from 4,568 breast cancer patients and 4,678 controls. The risk reduction that was observed held steady regardless of women’s race, premenopausal or postmenopausal status, age at migraine diagnosis, use of prescription migraine medications, and exposure to migraine triggers.
“Further work is needed to resolve what accounts for this relationship,” the authors write, “[e.g.,] whether it is a consequence of such factors as more frequent [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug] use among migraineurs, or if there are different hormonal milieus or sensitivities in migraineurs, compared with women who do not suffer from migraines that convey a lower risk of breast cancer” (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18:2030-2034).