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Migraine Linked to Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Patients who suffer from two or more migraines annually may be at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new large study from Taiwan.

Previous studies have linked the two disorders, but the findings have remained controversial, and in this study, researchers from the National Taiwan University Hospital hoped to further understand the association.

The population-based study included more than 82,000 individuals. A migraine group included more than 41,000 individuals between 40 and 90 years old, who had been seen in a clinic in 2001 for at least two migraines. The non-migraine group consisted of the same number of individuals without migraine.

During the 32-month follow-up period, 148 members of the migraine group developed Parkinson’s disease, compared with 101 in the non-migraine group.

maxresdefault (1)In addition to Parkinson’s disease, migraine has also been linked to other movement disorders, including essential tremor and restless leg syndrome.

The Taiwanese researchers suggest one possible reason for the link could be related to dysfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is common to movement disorders and also has been implicated in migraine. Additional possibilities include a dysfunction of iron metabolism and traumatic brain injury.

“These findings may highlight the importance of early risk assessment for Parkinson’s disease in migraineurs,” said senior author Prof. Shin-Liang Pan, MD, PhD. “Future longitudinal studies with neuroimaging and neurologic examinations are needed in order to elucidate the relationship and the underlying pathophysiological mechanism between migraine and Parkinson’s disease.”

The study appeared in the journal Cephalalgia.

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