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Put the Cigarette Down: They Trigger Migraines

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Does smoking cause headaches? Photo: Getty Images

Everyone knows smoking can cause lung cancer and other diseases but if you’re a smoker and you suffer from migraines, cigarettes may be causing those too.

A group of 361 medical students were given health questionnaires to fill in. They found that 16 percent of the total study group suffered from migraines and 20 percent smoked. The rate of migraines was greatest in the group that smoked and had migraines (29 percent).

Most of the sufferers thought that smoking worsens migraines and more than half thought that smoking precipitates a migraine. They were also aware that there was a relationship between the amount of cigarettes they smoked and the number of migraines they had. Five cigarettes a day were enough to trigger a migraine attack.

Even though there were more smokers who had migraines, they tended to smoke less than those that didn’t have migraines. This was because they were aware if they had more than five a day it would cause a migraine. The thought of going through all that pain reduced their cigarette use.

The doctors who formulated the questionnaire say their results are more accurate than other surveys because all the participants were medical students and they knew exactly what migraine was. Most other surveys are done randomly among members of the public that don’t always know what migraine is.

The research was published in the Journal of Headache and Pain and highlights another reason to stop smoking.

Facts about Smoking

• There are more deaths from cigarette smoking than all the combined deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, car accidents, suicide and murder.
• Smoking causes one in every five deaths in the U.S.A.
• There are 443,000 smoking deaths annually in the U.S.A.
• There are an additional 49,400 deaths annually from passive smoking in the U.S.A.
• Smokers die on average 14 years sooner than non-smokers.
• Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, aneurysms, pneumonia, chronic airway obstruction and a whole host of other diseases.

For information on Quitting Smoking, see:


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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