Often we hear about how a health condition encourages the development of another health concern. Both of the health concerns then grow together like best friends meeting for the first time. The ailments may be linked to one another or may only share a cause and effect relationship.

What is less common, however, is that certain health concerns may show up with a reduced risk of other health conditions. One such instance comes from a recent finding that claims that people with migraine are at a declined risk of developing diabetes type II.

Background information

Migraine and diabetes type II are both common conditions that numerous people suffer from. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 outlines that headache disorders, comprising mainly of migraine, are the second leading cause of worldwide disability. Diabetes ranks on the fourth in the list.

At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that migraine impacts at least 1 in 7 adults globally. Women are three times more likely to develop migraine headaches than men.

Typically, migraine shows up in the age range of 35-45 years. However, it can affect other age brackets including children. Since both the health concerns are so common, Dr. Guy Fagherazzi of the Institute National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) in France and his colleagues set out to discover the association between the two.

What does the study have to say?

Researchers point out that there is less evidence that points out the relationship between migraine and diabetes. There are also reduced cases where doctors hear their diabetes patients complain of headaches or vice versa.

One of the researchers highlights that it could be because a person with diabetes type II may be so occupied in managing his symptoms of diabetes that he may not notice any headaches.

Owing to this limited data that links diabetes type II and migraine, researchers took it on themselves to unearth some significant information on the matter. Their findings are published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

The participant pool of the study

For the investigation, researchers gathered their data from 70,000 women living in France. These women were a part of the E3N Prospective Cohort Study and members of a health insurance scheme.

Between 1990 and 2014, the women filled in lifestyle and health questionnaires, which included questions related to migraines. Data on diabetes type II came from the insurance scheme’s drug reimbursement database.

The analysis showed the women with active migraines had a 30% declined likelihood of developing diabetes type II. These findings were in contrast with women who did not have a history of migraine headaches.

As per this study, the investigators defined active migraine as experiencing the headaches since the last survey.

Possible explanation between the matter

A mechanism indicates that the activity of CGRP, a molecule titled calcitonin gene-related peptide is common in the development of a migraine. It is also involved in glucose metabolism. However, the molecules’ activity declines in cases of diabetes as noticed in an animal study.

The researchers write that the rats were induced with diabetes and it was noted that they showed a decreased density of CGRP sensory nerve fibers. While this does not completely explain the matter, it does raise some important questions. The researchers wondered:

  • Could it be because the patients with diabetes type II were so busy managing their health that they didn’t pay attention to any headaches?
  • Are the doctors who are treating diabetes also treating headaches, therefore, obviating the needs for a specialist for headache care?
  • Could it be that there is something about diabetes type II, which reduces the odds of having migraines?

Bottom line

Summing up, it is clear that diabetes reduces the odds of developing migraines and vice versa. However, this is only an observational study so no concrete definitions can be drawn. Therefore, it cannot be said that diabetes reduces the risk of migraine or so. An association between the two has come to light though.