Migraines affect nearly everyone at some point, with a variety of symptoms that can be debilitating once the pain threshold reaches the maximum level. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the past year about half of the world’s population between the ages of 18 and 65 have experienced a headache. About 30 percent of these people have experienced a migraine, which is a recurring headache that is associated with sensitivities to smells, sounds and light. The pain associated with migraines of moderate to severe intensity.
The disorder is more prevalent in American women, probably because of hormonal changes, with an estimated 12 percent of the population being affected. The primary cause of a migraine remains a mystery, even though a there are a variety of medicines that relieve the symptoms. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the cause or cure for migraine headaches.
A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine examined the findings of 12 separate studies, totaling up to nearly 290,000 participants. They defined underweight as a body mass index (BMI) lower than 18.5 and obesity as having a BMI of 30 or more.
The findings revealed that people who are considered obese have a 27 percent higher risk of migraine than individuals with a normal BMI. Underweight people had a 13 percent higher risk of migraine, when compared to people with a normal BMI.
After adjusting for potential confounding factors, sex and age, the results still remained unchanged.
Co-author of the study and researcher at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Dr. B. Lee Peterlin noted that sex and age were key elements in the correlations between BMI and migraine.
“This makes sense, as the risk entailed by obesity and the risk of migraine is different in women and men and in younger and older people,” Dr. Peterlin says. “Both obesity disease risk and the occurrence of migraine is more common in women and in younger people.”
Dr. Peterlin went on to say that the risk correlation found between migraine and BMI was moderate.
The authors could not find an explanation for the relationship between migraine and BMI, but Dr. Peterlin continues to hold out hope.
The study may also have been limited due to the fact that the participants in half of the previous studies reported their BMIs and migraines, which means that some of the data could be inaccurate.
The new findings were published in the journal Neurology.