Women who have migraines are more likely to accumulate brain lesions than those who donít suffer from the debilitating headaches, according to a Dutch study that suggests more research is needed to determine what they mean.
While itís not clear what causes the damage, seen in the connective fibers of the brain or white matter, the good news is that they donít seem to result in long-term harm to the brain, researchers said in the study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the nine-year study, magnetic resonance imaging showed that 77 percent of women with migraines had an increase in spots in their brainís white matter, compared with 60 percent of women who didnít have migraines. The findings also showed that the lesions donít affect cognitive function and the number, frequency and severity of the headaches donít affect the number of spots that appear over time.
ďThe data make it less plausible that migraine attacks cause the lesions,Ē said study author Mark Kruit, a neurologist in the Department of Radiology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, in a Nov. 12 e-mail. ďThe importance of the lesions is probably low because we did not find a clear effect on cognitive abilities. People should not be scared that migraine attacks cause brain changes.Ē