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Migraine Might Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Date:11/6/2008

ion use, smoking and alcohol use, which may vary between migraineurs and non-migraineurs," Drexler said. "In summary, an interesting study, but more work needs to be done to conclude that it has furthered our understanding of the biology of migraine or of breast cancer."

For the study, Li's team collected data on 3,412 postmenopausal women. Among these women, 1,938 had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1,474 had no history of the disease. The researcher also gathered information about migraines from the women.

The researchers found that women who suffered from migraines had a 30 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with women with no history of migraine.

Li noted that more work needs to be done to nail down the reason for the apparent protective effect of migraine for breast cancer. "Advancing our understanding of the mechanisms of migraine may improve our understanding of how we could potentially reduce breast cancer risk," he said.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, thinks the finding is interesting, but has no clinical implications.

"There is a decreased risk for women with migraines to develop breast cancer," Lichtenfeld said. "But in practical implications -- what should a woman do differently -- there is no action a woman or her health-care professional would take as a result of this report."

Migraine expert Dr. Stephen Silberstein, director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, said the findings are flawed, because using self-reported migraine data is not sufficient to determine whether the women actually suffered migraine or not.

"This study doesn't prove anything," Silberstein said. "It's not that I don't believe the results, it's that the results are not believable."

More information

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