STUDY: LGB Americans Are More Likely To Get Migraines

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Do you get a lot of migraines? Are you queer? A new study suggests there might be a connection between the two.

According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people are more likely to experience migraines than their straight peers. This information comes from a survey conducted by the University of California – San Francisco (UCSF), which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology. The study was focused on seeing how sexual orientation affects migraine prevalence. 

For the study, 9,884 Americans aged 31 to 42 were surveyed between the years of 2016 and 2018. The respondents were classified into three groups, according to AJMC: exclusively heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, or LGB. The respondents were asked a series of questions concerning their mental and physical health. The results found that nearly one-third of lesbian, gay, and bisexual participants experienced migraines 58% more than their straight peers.

Researchers also found:

  • Compared with individuals who were exclusively heterosexual, those who were mostly heterosexual had higher odds of migraine in an unadjusted model (odds ratio [OR], 1.80 [95% CI, 1.49-2.18]; P < .001) and an adjusted model (adjusted OR, 1.35 [95% CI, 1.10-1.65]; P = .004)
  • Compared with individuals who were exclusively heterosexual, those who were lesbian, gay, or bisexual had higher odds of migraine in an unadjusted model (OR, 1.83 [95% CI, 1.36-2.46]; P < .001) and an adjusted model (adjusted OR, 1.58 [95% CI, 1.17-2.14]; P = .003)
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But why is this? Unfortunately, the researchers behind the survey couldn’t say why. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the most common causes of severe headache pain due to migraines is a sensitivity to light and sound. However, the reason that LGB Americans experience a higher risk of migraines is still up for debate. Dr. Jason Nagata, the study’s lead author, hypothesized that it has something to do with the nature of discrimination within the country.

“There might be a higher rate of migraines in LGB people because of discrimination, stigma or prejudice, which may lead to stress and trigger a migraine,” Dr. Nagata, who’s an assistant professor of pediatrics at UCSF, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Physicians should be aware that migraines are quite common in LGB individuals and assess for migraine symptoms,” Nagata added.


Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation, AJMC

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