Study Finds Migraine is More Common in Women with Multiple Sclerosis

February 17, 2010


Migraine is seen more frequently in women with multiple sclerosis than those without, according to a study.

“While having a history of migraine diagnosis was linked to multiple sclerosis, women with migraine need to know that over 99 percent of them will never develop multiple sclerosis, thus having migraine should definitely not be a reason to worry about getting multiple sclerosis,” said study author Ilya Kister. “More research is needed since it’s still not known whether migraine is a risk factor for developing multiple sclerosis or if it is a condition that occurs at the same time as multiple sclerosis.”

The study involved 116,678 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II. Of these women, 18,000 had been diagnosed with migraine at the start of the study. The women were followed every two years for 16 years. During the study, 375 women were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Of those, 82 had reported at the beginning of the study that they had been diagnosed by a doctor with migraine.

The study found that women with a migraine diagnosis at the beginning of the study were 47 percent more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than women without a diagnosis. The results were the same regardless of age, where they lived, Scandinavian ancestry, vitamin D levels, smoking status and body mass index.

The research represents the first large scale study of its kind to explore the relationship between migraine and multiple sclerosis.

1. Ilya Kister, et al. American Academy of Neurology.

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