If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know you’ll do anything to prevent having one again. The pulsing and throbbing pain, the nausea and sensitivity to light and sound is enough to make anyone want to curl up in a dark corner and cry.
According to Medline Plus, migraines are three times more likely to occur in women than in men.
Thankfully, scientists are getting closer each day to understanding what exactly causes migraines and how we can prevent or manage them.
In a recent study published in the June 12 issue of Nature Genetics, researchers identified three gene variations linked to migraines and headaches.
The researchers said that anyone who inherits any one of three genes has a 10 to 15 percent greater risk for developing the condition.
The researchers, comprised of doctors from Harvard Medical School and NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, examined genetic data from more than 23,000 women, including over 5,000 migraine sufferers.
The doctors unveiled an association between the headaches and variations in three genes: TRPM8 (which plays a role in sensitivity to cold and pain), LRP1 (a gene involved in the transmission of signals between neurons) and PRDM16.
For years, doctors believed migraines were most commonly a multi-genetic condition with potentially many genetic variations that contribute. Now they believe the cause is related to genes that control the activity of some brain cells, and in identifying the three gene variations, can better help the researchers find ways to manage migraines.
The team said that doctors have always known migraines to be a genetic disorder, but these findings now tell us it is a neurological one as well.
Medicines can help prevent migraine attacks or help relieve symptoms of attacks when they happen, but understanding the origin of migraines is a very encouraging step.
The researchers noted that although the findings are encouraging, they say more research is needed to better understand exactly how each of these three genes is associated with migraine.
They’re getting closer to tapping into the origin and causes of migraines, so it’s just a matter of time before they become manageable and preventable.
Scientists Identify Genes Linked to Migraines
Medline Plus: Migraines
Nature Genetics Journal
Reviewed June 13, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton
Bailey Mosier is a freelance journalist living in Winter Park, Florida. She received a Masters of Journalism from Arizona State University, played D-I golf, has been editor of a Scottsdale-based golf magazine and currently contributes to GolfChannel.com. She aims to live an active, healthy lifestyle full of sunshine and smiles.