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Migraine Linked to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

-- Rick Ansorge

Thursday, July 9, 2009

THURSDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- In both premenopausal and postmenopausal women, a history of migraine may be independently associated with a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer, according to a study published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

In 2008, Christopher I. Li, M.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues published a study of about 1,000 breast-cancer cases and about 1,000 controls (ages 55 to 74) in one metropolitan area showing a link between migraine and a lower risk of breast cancer. In this follow-up study, they assessed 4,568 cases and 4,678 controls (ages 34 to 64) in five metropolitan areas, and analyzed data on common migraine triggers such as alcohol, hormone replacement therapy, and smoking, which are also risk factors for breast cancer.

Overall, the researchers found that migraine was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer (odds ratio, 0.74), and that the association was not affected by menopausal status, age at migraine diagnosis, or use of prescription migraine medications. They also found that the association did not differ in women who never drank alcohol, never smoked and didn't use hormones, suggesting that migraine alone is a protective factor.

"Further work is needed to resolve what accounts for this relationship; such as whether it is a consequence of factors such as more frequent NSAID 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," the authors conclude.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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