The key to curing chronic migraines could lie with the ‘female’ gene, claim a team of scientists, and it may also explain why women are more prone to headaches than men.
Researchers from Griffith University, Australia, discovered a link between the X chromosome and migraines, after investigating the genetic data of 300 people living on Norfolk Island - a small island located between Australia and New Zealand.
During the study, researchers discovered that X chromosomes interrupt a gene involved in the brain's regulation of iron. If iron levels dip too far below the 'normal' mark, this can trigger a migraine attack.
An iron-deficiency in the brain (caused by cells not getting enough oxygen) can trigger chronic headaches, due to the lack of oxygen in the brain and bodily tissues.
Females have two X chromosomes while males have an X and a Y chromosome, which could be the reason why women are more susceptible to migraines than men, claim researchers.
According to the Migraine Trust, there are around 190,000 migraine attacks everyday in the UK. Women are more likely to have a migraine attack than men, with 18% of women claiming to have suffered at least once in their lifetime compared to 8% of men.
“These results provide more support for the role of the X chromosome in migraine and may explain why so many more females suffer from the disorder,” explains lead researcher Lyn Griffiths, reports Science Daily.
“Even though we have some very good treatments for this very debilitating disease, they certainly don't work for everyone and can have some adverse side effects. Hence there is a real need to develop new migraine treatments."
The National Health and Medical Research Council funded the study.
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