"We have known for decades that migraine is caused by brain dysfunction. There may be vascular changes, but they are only secondary. Patients experience warning symptoms such as food cravings, frequent yawning, fatigue, and neck stiffness a day before the pain, suggesting that migraine is a state of brain dysfunction as opposed to one of vascular dysfunction."2
Monteith also commented that some of the more promising newer treatments are drugs that do not affect blood vessels and that medications that do target blood flow and are sometimes effective against migraines are not safe for everyone to use, such as people with a history of strokes or heart attacks.
Both Saper and Monteith said that while the study may be a great model for ice cream headaches, at this point, it's too big a leap to tie the findings to other types of headaches.
The bottom line? The media jumped on a research poster and made big headlines out of it - prematurely. The findings of this research have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. As Dr. Saper and Dr. Monteith pointed out, it has now been shown that Migraines are not vascular headaches, so the headlines are incorrect at best.
To those who wrote those headlines - What? Was it a slow news day? Kudos to Kim Carollo whose interviews with Dr. Saper and Dr. Monteith brought current science into play when reporting on this research poster!
1 Welsh, Jennifer. "Cause of Brain Freeze Revealed." LiveScience. April 22, 2012.
2 Carollo, Kim. "Understanding Brain Freeze May Be Key To Migraine Treatment, Says Study." ABC News. April 23, 2012.
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