A Link Between Migraine and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

TYPE 2 DIABETES MELLITUS (T2DM) risk is lowered in women who experience migraines, according to the results of a large observational study of French, female patients. With headache disorders being the second leading cause of disability in the world, and diabetes in fourth position, new insights into the link between these two disorders will be of great value to many patients across the globe.

Since data on the link between these common conditions are sparse, researchers analysed results of a survey that included >70,000 French women who answered questions on migraine every few years between 1990 and 2014. The participants were members of a health insurance scheme, allowing information on T2DM diagnoses to be accessed via the insurance scheme’s drug reimbursement database.

The investigation highlighted that women who had experienced migraine in the period since the last survey, known as having active migraine, were around 30% less likely to develop T2DM compared to women who had not experienced migraine in the past. The team also noted that the number of migraines experienced declined in the years preceding a diagnosis of diabetes. It was suggested that migraines may lower the risk of women developing T2DM, potentially due to involvement of calcitonin gene-related peptide, which plays a role in glucose metabolism as well as the pathogenesis of migraine. Prior studies have shown that the density of calcitonin gene-related peptide sensory nerve fibres is reduced in rat models of diabetes, reinforcing this hypothesis.

Following these insightful results, the team speculated that migraine may have beneficial effects on certain aspects of a patient’s health, and that diabetes could suppress or reduce migraine; however, it is also possible that diabetes doctors are simply treating headaches in their patients and headache disorder specialist care is not required. While this research sheds light on this inverse association, the reasons for the connection are still unclear and further research is required to investigate the factors that reduce or raise the risk of T2DM and/or migraines.