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Weight-Loss Surgery May Cut Migraine Pain in Obese Patients
Date:3/28/2011

MONDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Severely obese men and women who have bariatric surgery may shed more than just excess pounds: They may also reduce much of their pre-surgery risk for experiencing disabling migraines, researchers say.

The finding is based on the results of a small study of obese patients with a history of migraines. The patients went on to lose an average of roughly 66 pounds by the half-year point following either laparoscopic gastric banding surgery or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. And within that same timeframe, about half of the patients cut the frequency of their migraines in half or more.

The study is published in the March 29 issue of the journal Neurology.

"Obesity is thought to contribute to worsening of migraine, particularly for severely obese individuals, yet no study has examined whether weight loss can actually improve migraine headaches in these patients," study author Dale Bond, a researcher with the Miriam Hospital's Weight Loss and Diabetes Research Center, said in a journal news release.

"Our study provides evidence that weight loss may be an important part of a migraine treatment plan for obese patients," Bond noted.

About 28 million Americans struggle with migraines, the study authors pointed out. The problem primarily affects women, and is characterized by throbbing pain, typically confined to one side of the head, lasting anywhere from four hours to three days, they noted. Often recurring between one and four times a month, these headaches are accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

Although the exact mechanism driving migraines is not fully understood, they are believed to be triggered by abnormal brain activity that itself is set in motion by stress, particular foods and a range of environmental factors. To date, there is no known cure, though medications can sometimes help control severity and frequency of attacks.

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