Stress about finances may up migraine risk, says study

London: Stress caused by financial hardship can increase the risk of developing migraine in people with a particular gene, a study has found.

Migraine is a serious and debilitating neurological disease affecting 1 billion people worldwide.

Researchers, including those from Semmelweis University in Hungary, checked about 2349 patients, for two variants of the CLOCK gene, and how these are associated with migraine.

The CLOCK gene is a gene associated with the sleep-wake cycle – also known as the circadian rhythm – that make chronic stress-triggered migraines more common.

It has an important role in regulating many rhythmic patterns of the body, including body temperature or level of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, researchers said.

They found that there was no significant direct connection between the gene and migraine, but when they factored in stress (financial stress, measured by a financial questionnaire), they noted that the investigated gene variants increased the odds of having migraine type headaches in those subjects who suffered from financial hardship by around 20 per cent.

The team looked at functional single nucleotide polymorphisms within the CLOCK gene that are able to influence how much protein is transcribed from the gene.

Since this protein controls the body clock machinery these variants may impair processes that can prevent migraine in the face of stress.

The study does not show what causes migraine but it does show that both stress and genetics have an effect. We were able to show that stress – represented by financial hardship – led to an increase in migraine in those who have a particular gene variant,” said Daniel Baksa, from Semmelweis University.