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Lesbian, gay and bi people much more likely to get migraines than straight people, according to science

Emma Powys Maurice September 29, 2020
LGB people get more migraines than straight people, according to science

LGB people are 58 per cent more likely to experience a migraine than straight people (BSIP/Universal Images/Getty)

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are significantly more likely to get migraines than straight people, and scientists believe the stress of bigotry could be one reason why.

A survey of 10,000 Americans aged 31-42 by San Francisco’s University of California found that almost a third of LGB people experienced migraines, a figure 58 per cent higher than in heterosexual participants.

And although the researchers were unable to pinpoint the exact reason behind the painful and disabling headaches, we can only assume that the constant strain of dealing with cis straight nonsense is a contributing factor.

“There might be a higher rate of migraines in LGB people because of discrimination, stigma or prejudice, which may lead to stress and trigger a migraine,” the study’s lead author Dr Jason Nagata told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Physicians should be aware that migraines are quite common in LGB individuals and assess for migraine symptoms.”

Migraines can be accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound as well as blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. The throbbing headaches are the most common reason for emergency room visits in the US, and while there are many different triggers, the cause is still unclear.

The study found that the increased risk of migraines was seen even in those who identified as “mostly heterosexual but with some same-sex attractions”.

It’s possible that the prevalence in the queer population is connected to the rise in hate crimes, which have reached the highest levels in a decade in the US. LGBT+ people are among the most frequently targeted groups, alongside Jews and Black people.

Dr Nagata also considered that another reason LGB people may be more likely to get migraines could be the barriers of receiving healthcare.

Other studies have shown that women are much more likely to experience migraines than men, and up to 85 per cent of American migraine sufferers are female.

Migraines also appear to be more common among Black Americans and Americans with lower socioeconomic status, according to the National Headache Foundation.

More: Hate crime, healthcare, Migraines, University of California

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