Apr 3, 2023 - Research

Genetic Links Between Migraines and Blood Sugar

Migraine Photo

Scientists in Australia have found an overlap between some of the underlying genes associated with migraines and those associated with blood sugar imbalances.

Glycemic Headache

The findings firm up a long-suspected connection between migraines and blood sugar regulation. Migraines affect greater than 10 percent of the world population. Women are more than three times more likely to experience migraines than men.

“As far back as 1935, migraine was described as a ‘glycemic headache’,” said Dale Nyholt, professor at the Australia’s Queensland University of Technology Centre for Genomics and Personalised Health. “Glycemic traits such as insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) and type 2 diabetes are associated with migraine and headache.”

Understanding the Link

The genetic overlap of those traits helps scientists better understand how migraines and blood sugar may be related. It may also help scientists studying the best way to treat the condition. The link between migraines and blood sugar has been known. However, this is the first time researchers could see a genetic link between the two, Nyholt said.

Researchers at the Australia’s Queensland University of Technology led the study. It looked at data from more than a dozen institutions including from 23andMe. In all, data from almost 900,000 individuals was included in the study. About 100,000 of those individuals were 23andMe customers who consented to participate in research.

To read the full paper go to the journal Human Genetics.

Other studies have pointed to variants near genes that regulate serotonin levels. Serotonin is a messaging molecule produced by specialized brain cells and influences a wide range of human behavior, including appetite, sleep, memory, and mood.

23andMe+ member can learn about what their genetic says about their own likelihood of developing migraines here.

The 23andMe+ Migraine Report looks at more than 20,000 genetic variants along with the ethnicity and sex to estimate the likelihood of experiencing migraine headaches.

Not yet a 23andMe+ member? Find out more here.

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