HealthDay News — Migraine headaches are not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“We don’t really understand the cause of migraines, but there has been a suggestion that they may be triggered by hormone levels,” lead researcher Rulla Tamimi, ScD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told HealthDay. “We know that hormone levels are also associated with breast cancer, so perhaps there could be a link between migraine and breast cancer.” But the report observed no association between migraine and breast cancer or migraine and female sex hormones, Tamimi said.

The study relied on data from 115,378 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II, of whom 17,696 suffered from migraine. Over 20 years of follow-up, no association with breast cancer was observed.

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Tamimi’s team also looked at the levels of sex hormones of 2,034 premenopausal women and found no link between hormone levels and migraines. The research data, which included analysis of four other studies, hinted that migraine might even lower the risk for breast cancer, but that appeared to be a result of study design and not necessarily a real link, the researchers said.


  1. Winter AC et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014; doi:10.1093/jnci/dju381.