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Female migraine sufferers less likely to get breast cancer

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Women who suffer from migraines have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer, a new study suggests.

US researchers studied more than 3,000 postmenopausal women, almost 2,000 of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

They found that women with a history of severe, recurrent headaches had a 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who did not suffer from severe headaches.

The researchers said the association between breast cancer and migraines could be linked to fluctuations in the levels of circulating hormones.

‘Migraines seem to have a hormonal component in that they occur more frequently in women than in men, and some of their known triggers are associated with hormones,’ said lead study author Christopher Li, associate professor of epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington.

‘While these results need to be interpreted with caution, they point to a possible new factor that may be related to breast cancer risk,’ he added.

Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention (2008) 17: 3116-3122

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