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Link between migraines and reduced breast cancer risk confirmed in follow-up study
Date:7/8/2009

SEATTLE The relationship between migraine headaches in women and a significant reduction in breast cancer risk has been confirmed in a follow-on study to landmark research published last year and conducted by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The new study found a 26 percent reduced risk of breast cancer among both premenopausal and postmenopausal women with a clinical diagnosis of migraines.

The study appears in the July 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. It was led by Christopher I. Li, M.D., Ph.D., a breast-cancer epidemiologist and associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division. Li led the first-of-its-kind study linking migraines with breast cancer risk reduction that was published in the same journal last November.

This time researchers found that the risk reduction remained statistically similar regardless of a woman's menopausal status, her age at migraine diagnosis, use of prescription migraine medications or whether she avoided known migraine "triggers" such as alcohol consumption, smoking and taking hormone replacements. These triggers are also well-established breast cancer risk factors.

Some key differences between this study and the initial one that discovered the link include:

  • The sample size was more than four times larger this time more than 4,500 cases and controls versus about 1,000 each in the first study and was more diverse geographically, drawing women from five metropolitan areas instead of only one. "From an epidemiological perspective, having a larger and more diverse study in its underlying population helps in replicating the finding," Li said.

  • The age range of women studied was wider this time, 34-64 years of age versus 55-74 years old. "We were able to look at whether this association was seen among both pre-menopausal and post menopausal women,"
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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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