It's long been thought that women who have migraines run a greater risk of becoming overweight as compared to women who are not afflicted by this debilitating illness.
Migraines are recurring and severe headaches that may also include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, eyesight changes and and sensitivity to light and noise.
They are widespread among women and severe migraine attacks have been classified by the World Health Organization as among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis.
Up to now, it was thought that migraines could contribute to weight gain indirectly – with, for instance, frequent or severe headaches keeping a person from exercising regularly.
However, an international study has now found "no consistent association between migraine and incident overweight, obesity or relevant weight gain".
The current study, published in the journal Cephalalgia, looked at data from 19,162 participants in the Women's Health Study who were aged 45 or older, and of normal weight, when the research began. A total of 3,483 women reported incidences of migraines.
"After 12.9 years of follow-up, 7,916 incident overweight and 730 incident obesity cases occurred," says the study.
But the likelihood of becoming obese was no greater among women with a history of migraines, and the risk of being overweight was only slightly higher.
Researchers also found that women who had migraines daily to weekly were at no greater risk of becoming overweight or obese that those who had migraine attacks only a few times a year.
However, the study did not look at the opposite scenario – whether overweight or obese women are at increased risk of migraines or severe headaches.
Several studies have indicated a strong association between obesity and increased migraine frequency with some even suggesting that weight contributed to developing migraines in the first place.