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Bigger Waistlines Raise Risk of Migraine

Last month we reported that being extremely overweight (or underweight) might be a risk factor for migraine and other severe headaches. A new study, to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April, suggests that excess weight in the belly particularly increases this risk.

Individuals between the ages of 20 and 55 with a bigger waist circumference had significantly higher rates of migraine than those with smaller bellies—20.1% vs. 15.9%—according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 22,211 patients. The link was higher in women than men, but disappeared for both sexes after age 55.

Abdominal obesity has already been found to predict a number of diseases better than total body obesity. Adipose tissue present in belly fat may be the culprit, according to researcher B. Lee Peterlin, DO, from Drexel University in Philadelphia. This fat is involved in the secretion and production of inflammatory proteins, which are also increased during migraine.

“These results, while still in the early stages, suggest that losing weight in the stomach area may be beneficial for younger people who experience migraine, and especially so for women,” said Dr. Peterlin.

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