A recent Reuters news story puts it this way:
Women who have migraines may have no greater risk of becoming overweight than other women, despite what some research has suggested, according to an international study.
But as with most migraine news stories, there’s more to it than that.
The study that is being mentioned was published last month in the journal Cephalalgia. It actually is a study within another study – the Women’s Health Study, which we’ve talked about before.
Out of 19,162 women, 3,483 reported a history of migraine.
Following the women for almost 13 years, the researchers discovered that migraineurs did not gain significantly more weight than other women.
But there are a some things you need to know about this study. First, these were all women age 45 and older when the study began. So we’re talking about age 45-58.
This is obviously a time when there are a lot of changes going on in a woman’s body. In fact, some women find their migraine attacks decreasing at this time of life.
How different would the study have been if it had investigated women age 32-45? Or younger? Could it be that there would be a greater difference in this stage of life?
Further, these women were all of normal weight when the study began. And they already had a history of migraine. What type of weight gain may have already occurred, between the time of the first migraine attacks and age 45?
Could it be that weight gain during migraine occurs earlier in life, then tapers off?
Is this study good news for migraineurs? Sure. It tells us that a significant group of migraineur women did not continue to experience significant weight gain in midlife. Unfortunately, it leaves out large numbers of migrainuers who may indeed experience significant weight gain.
Weight gain can be caused directly or indirectly. Some medications may cause weight gain – others may cause weight loss. Also, some people with chronic headache or migraine find it difficult to have a regular exercise routine. Comorbid conditions may also lead to weight gain.
We also know that several neurotransmitters and proteins have been associated with migraine or headache and body fat or eating habits. It could very well be that there is a more direct link.
To learn more about some of the research, check out Migraine, Headache, and Obesity – What’s the Link?