Migraine sufferers will be the first to tell you that when they hit, the pain can sometimes be unbearable. As such, they do whatever they can to avoid and prevent them in the first place. A new study about caffeine could be quite helpful, then, as it suggests a simple cup of coffee might be the trigger that sets one off.
Now, that is not to say that migraine headache patients need to avoid coffee altogether. Instead, the study says the magic number is three.
Lead study author Elizabeth Mostofsky explains, “In patients with episodic migraine, one to two caffeinated drinks were not associated with getting a migraine on the same day.”
Essentially, up to two cups of coffee appear to be ok for those who suffer migraines, particularly if that is a consistent daily amount. However, and for whatever reason, the Harvard University researchers found that a third cup—once in a while—might trigger the extreme pain associated with a migraine headache.
The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Cetner postdoctoral fellow and Harvard University TH Chan School of Public Health epidemiology instructor goes on to say, “These findings would suggest that you limit yourself to no more than two servings a day of caffeinated beverages.”
For the study, the research team—again, led by Mostofsky—examined 98 volunteers who had experienced between 2 and 15 headaches, on average, per month. Each person was asked to maintain a six-week diary tracking various lifestyle factors like alcohol and caffeine consumption as well as physical activity and stress level.
It might be relevant that the majority of these volunteers were female. In addition, most of these participants—more than 65 percent—reported consumption of up to two caffeinated beverages per day. About 12 percent reported three or four servings of caffeine (coffee) per day. Overall, the participants reported 825 total migraines across the study’s 4,467 days.
In most cases, there seemed to be no link between two servings and migraine triggers, but among those who rarely consumed caffeine—in any form—up two servings did appear to increase headache risk. Furthermore, those who normally drank up to two cups of coffee, daily, had 1.4 times higher odds of migraine when consuming three or four drinks and 2.61 times higher odds when consuming 5 or more.