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Drinking and Smoking Linked to Migraines in Teens

Alcohol consumption and smoking are strongly associated with migraine and tension-type headaches in adolescents, according to a study published in Headache.

Alcohol consumption and smoking are associated with migraine and tension-type headaches (TTH) in adolescents, according to a study published in Headache, the journal of the American Headache Society.

Coffee consumption and a lack of physical activity were linked specifically to migraines in the study, which was conducted by researchers at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany. It is the first of its kind to investigate associations between diet and lifestyle factors and different types of headaches in teenagers.

For the investigation, 1,260 students in grades 10 and 11 answer questions regarding their intake of meals, coffee, nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks, smoking, and physical activity. Lead researcher Astrid Milde-Busch, PhD, and colleagues determined that high consumption of cocktails and coffee, smoking, and lack of physical activity “were significantly associated with migraine plus TTH episodes, consumption of coffee and physical inactivity particularly with migraine and physical inactivity with TTH.” Skipping meals or insufficient fluid intake were not associated with any type of headache, they found.

The researchers concluded that “adolescents with any type of headache might benefit from regular physical activity and low consumption of alcoholic drinks, while for migraine patients a low consumption of coffee should additionally be recommended.” Further studies are needed to determine whether educational programs offering knowledge of these associations will influence headache-triggering behavior and headache in this age group.