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Abdominal Fat may Play Role in Migraine Headaches

by Susanne Morrone

(NaturalNews) According to ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2009) – a new study shows overweight people between the ages of 20 and 55 may have a higher risk of experiencing migraine headaches. The author of the study is B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.

The study consisted of 22,211 participants who were asked by researchers to report whether they suffered from either migraine or severe headaches. In the 20 to 55 age bracket, on average, those with larger waistlines were more likely to have migraine attacks than people of the same age who had smaller waistlines.

To ascertain abdominal obesity, measurements were taken by waist circumference and with total body obesity. This was calculated by using the body mass index based on a person`s weight and height. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may result in health problems. The study found that age, gender and the way that body fat is distributed affected the risk of migraine.

Thirty-seven percent of women between the ages of 20 to 55 with excess abdominal fat reported migraines compared to 29 percent without excess abdominal fat. Regarding men in the same age group, 20 percent of those with abdominal obesity reported migraines as compared to 16 percent of those without abdominal obesity.

In women 20 to 55 years of age with excess belly fat, the odds of migraine went up 1.3 times after adjusting for heart disease risk factors and for total body obesity. Over the age of 55, total body obesity was not associated with migraine in men or women. In women over 55 years with large waistlines, the odds of migraine actually decreased.

"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. He added, "Men and women have body tissue distributed in different ways. After puberty women show more fatty tissue deposits in the hip and thigh area while men predominantly have more fatty tissue in the belly region. After menopause, women show more fatty tissue in the belly area as well. For some diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, excess fat around the waistline appears to be a stronger risk factor than total body obesity."

Dr. Peterlin is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology and will be presenting these findings at the American Academy of Neurology`s 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

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