March 21, 2010
Women who suffer from migraines may have a lower risk of breast cancer, research suggests.
Studies published in 2008 and 2009 found that women who have been treated for migraines have a 26% to 33% lower risk of breast cancer than other women.
To combat the pain, many migraine sufferers take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which also may reduce breast cancer risk. So researchers conducted a new study, published online in January in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, to determine whether migraines alone have an effect on breast cancer risk. They found that migraine sufferers were 11% less likely to develop breast cancer overall and 17% less likely to develop a hormone-sensitive breast cancer, whether or not they take NSAIDs.
The connection makes sense, researchers say, because the hormone estrogen plays a role in most breast cancers, as well as in many migraines. For example, 60% of women with migraines report having more headaches around the time of menstruation, when estrogen levels change. Many pregnant women also report fewer migraines once their estrogen levels stabilize mid-pregnancy, as do post-menopausal women.