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Three cups of coffee a day increases your chances of a migraine, according to new research

One to two caffeinated drinks were reported to have no impact on migraine odds but any more than that increased the likelihood of one occurring.

Coffee has been linked to the onset of migraines.
Coffee has been linked to the onset of migraines.
Image: Shutterstock/stockphoto for you

CONSUMING MORE THAN three coffees a day increases the likelihood of experiencing a migraine, according to researchers in the US. 

Migraine is one of the most common, and debilitating illnesses, which affects more than one billion adults worldwide. 

The main symptom of a migraine is a severe headache, but many sufferers report nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as visual and auditory hallucinations. 

The cause of a migraine can vary from person to person, but one of the reported catalysts can be certain types of food and drinks, including caffeinated beverages. 

A collaborative project with researchers from Harvard, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical centre (BIDMC), tested the incidence of caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks. 

It found that there was a thin line between how much caffeine could be consumed before the likelihood of a migraine occurring increased, with one to two drinks having no association with headaches, but any more than three likely to cause a problem. 

Elizabeth Mostofsky explained: “While some potential triggers – such as lack of sleep – may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex. It may trigger an attack but also helps control symptoms. 

“Caffeine’s impact depends both on dose and on frequency, but because there have been few prospective studies on the immediate risk of migraine headaches following caffeinated beverage intake, there is limited evidence to formulate dietary recommendations.”

Some of the other triggers that have been associated with migraines in the past include weather conditions, hormonal changes, stress, medications and sleep disturbances. 

This study charted the lives of 98 adults, who said they experienced frequent migraines, for six weeks. 

They provided details of caffeinated drinks, onset, duration and intensity of headaches, and medications used for migraines. 

Overall, the researchers saw no association between one to two servings of caffeinated beverages and the odds of headaches on the same day, but they did see higher odds of same-day headaches on days with three or more servings of caffeinated drinks.

“Despite the high prevalence of migraine and often debilitating symptoms, effective migraine prevention remains elusive for many patients,” Suzanne M. Bertisch, co-author of the study published in the American Medical Journal said. 

“This study was a novel opportunity to examine the short-term effects of daily caffeinated beverage intake on the risk of migraine headaches.

“Interestingly, despite some patients with episodic migraine thinking they need to avoid caffeine, we found that drinking one to two servings a day was not associated with higher risk of headache. More work is needed to confirm these findings, but it is an important first step.”

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