Migraines, Brain Lesions Linked; Study Suggests Damage Goes beyond Episodic Pain

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Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Migraines may be a lot more than episodes of intense, unrelenting pain. A study suggests they may cause brain damage.

The study, published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found evidence of brain lesions in migraine sufferers at a rate far exceeding those without migraines.

"This shows migraines are not just headaches, something brought on by stress," Lenore Launer, chief of the National Institute on Aging's neuro-epidemiology section and a co-author of the study, said in an interview yesterday.

The study did not determine whether migraines were responsible for the excessive incidence of brain lesions found in migraine sufferers, but the evidence strongly suggests this, Ms. Launer said.

"I'm very proud of this study," which could mean migraines "can lead to pathologic brain changes," Ms. Launer added.

Migraines, which strike about 10 percent of the population, usually start on one side of the forehead and sometimes spread to the back of the head.

The headaches bring gripping, throbbing pain that can last from four hours to three days, Ms. Launer said. They are three times more common in women than men and often are accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

The study in JAMA, led by Dr. Mark Kruit of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, involved 295 Dutch adults, ages 30 to 60, who experienced migraines. …