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Obesity Linked to Headaches and Migraines

headacheThe laundry list of ailments associated with obesity continue to grow. A few days ago I wrote about how obesity has health effects beyond the more famous (heart problems, diabetes, etc.), such as causing chronic low back pain. Add headaches to the list.

U.S. researchers say obesity may raise the risk of getting migraines. In a study, 37 percent of women with abdominal obesity (determined by waist circumference) reported experiencing migraines, compared to 29 percent of women who were not obese. For men, 20 percent with abdominal obesity reported migraines as opposed to 16 percent who who weren’t obese.

An important piece of the puzzle is still missing, however.

“Now we need to look at, well, if people lose weight can we scientifically prove that it helps headaches,” asked Dr. Lee Peterlin of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, one of the researchers in the study.

Migraines affect 10 percent of Americans – about 30 million people – according to the National Headache Foundation. They take the pain and discomfort of normal headaches to a different level, as they can include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. They are more common in women and often run in families.

Curiously, the study found that after age 55, the increased risk of migraines for obese people no longer existed.

February 16th, 2009

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