A headache is a common phenomenon and millions of Americans suffer from it at some point in time. But migraines are different. Anyone who suffers from it would vouch for the disconcerting effects it has on the body and mind. The constant throbbing of the head (sometimes only in one side) and the associated pain, which may last from several hours to some days can be the nightmare of an otherwise healthy person. But scientists see rays of hope for women who suffer from the dreaded migraine.
Interestingly, a recent study headed by Dr. Christopher I. Li of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, after evaluating the data of more than 9,000 women, came up with the conclusion that women affected by a migraine have 26 percent fewer chances of being affected by breast cancer and conditions like age, the initial occurrence of a migraine, the kind of drugs the women took to alleviate the problem, the state of menopause or the immediate causes that trigger it (smell, light or sound) had no bearing on it.
The results of this study were in agreement with an earlier study by Dr. Li and his group of scientists last November that pointed to a 33 percent fewer risks of occurrence of breast cancer amongst women suffering from a migraine.
Dr. Li was hopeful that this relationship of lower risk of breast cancer to a migraine could throw light in understanding the biological mechanisms associated with breast cancer and its prevention. Although the researchers are still unaware of the exact reasons behind this relationship, they do believe that hormones, especially estrogen could have a role in it.
Causes Of Breast Cancer
“It is quite obvious that migraines are also a hormone-related disease like breast cancer and some of the things that bring in a lowering of estrogen levels in the body also sets in a migraine. The higher level of estrogen is also associated with breast cancer. Hence, this could be the possible explanation for the fact that women suffering from a migraine are less likely to be affected by breast cancer.”
Researchers also opine that non-steroidal drugs like aspirin, NSAID, naproxen, and ibuprofen took by women suffering from a migraine in order to alleviate the pain would also be the reason. In fact, a recent study of this aspect pointed out that there exists 12 percent of the reduction in the risks of breast cancer amongst women who took NSAID.
But Dr. Li advised caution and said that women suffering from a migraine should still go for breast cancer screening and check-ups. Dr. Michael Kraut, Director of Oncology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, also agrees to this. He also believes that a migraine could be due to the reduction in the level of estrogen amongst women and is another pointer to the dangers associated with breast cancer. Li and his research associates are doing further study to find out the relationship between the lowering risks of breast cancer to the various types of migraines.
This study report has been published in the July issue of the journal of the American Association of Cancer Research called ‘Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention’.
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