Migraine history and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women

Christopher I. Li, Robert W. Mathes, Elizabeth C. Bluhm, Bette Caan, Mary F. Cavanagh, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Yvonne Michael, Mary Jo O'Sullivan, Marcia L. Stefanick, Ross Prentice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose: Both migraine and breast cancer are hormonally mediated. Two recent reports indicate that women with a migraine history may have a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than those who never suffered migraines. This finding requires confirmation; in particular, an assessment of the influence of use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) is needed, because many studies indicate that NSAID use also may confer a reduction in breast cancer risk. Methods: We assessed the relationship between self-reported history of migraine and incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer in 91,116 women enrolled on the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study prospective cohort from 1993 to 1998 at ages 50 to 79 years. Through September 15, 2005, there were 4,006 eligible patients with breast cancer diagnosed. Results: Women with a history of migraine had a lower risk of breast cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 0.89; 95% CI, 0.80 to 98) than women without a migraine history. This risk did not vary by recent NSAID use. The lower risk was somewhat more pronounced for invasive estrogen-receptor-positive and progesterone-receptor-positive tumors (HR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.71 to 0.97), as no reduction in risk was observed for invasive ER-negative/PR-negative tumors (HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.57), and this difference in risk estimates was borderline statistically significant (P = .06). Conclusion: This study supports the hypothesis that a history of migraine is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer and that this relationship is independent of recent NSAID use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1005-1010
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 20 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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