June 27, 2010

Migraines lower breast cancer risk

At last good news for migraine sufferers - women who get the debilitating headaches are less likely to develop breast cancer than other women.

After analysing the results of two different studies of 3412 post-menopausal women, doctors from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found a definite link between migraines and breast cancer.

“We found that, overall, women who had migraines had a 30% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who did not have a history of such headaches,” said Dr Christopher Li.

The cancer risk was decreased for the main types of cancer, those that are fuelled by oestrogen and progesterone, two natural types of women’s hormones.

The findings suggest that hormones play a large role the development of breast cancer.

“Women who have higher levels of oestrogen have higher levels of cancer,” Dr Li said.

He explained that migraines are commonly triggered by having low oestrogen levels, which can occur at different stages of the menstrual cycle. Sufferers “may have a chronically lower baseline oestrogen – that difference could be what is protective against breast cancer,” he added.

According to the Breast Cancer Network Australia, 13,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year 36 a day. Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in women.

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