"This research suggests that women with migraine may have a lower risk of breast cancer," said Li, who added that women with migraines should "still have the same breast cancer screenings and follow-up."
Dr. Michael Kraut, director of oncology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., agreed that women with migraine still need to be vigilant about assessing their breast cancer risk. "The reduction in breast cancer risk in this study was about one-quarter, but it doesn't eliminate the risk, so women still need to be on the lookout."
Kraut said the link between migraines and breast cancer risk is likely a hormonal one. "The theory they propose here is that women who have migraines may have drops in estrogen levels that trigger migraines. And women who have sustained, increased levels of estrogen have a higher risk of breast cancer. This looks like one more piece of evidence that prolonged high levels of estrogen are dangerous," he said.
To learn more about preventing breast cancer, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Christopher Li, M.D., Ph.D., associate member, epidemiology program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle; Michael Kraut, M.D., director, oncology, Providence Hospital, Southfield, Mich.; July 2009 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
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