Association between lifestyle factors and headache

J Headache Pain. 2011 Apr;12(2):147-55. doi: 10.1007/s10194-010-0286-0. Epub 2011 Jan 11.


Modification of lifestyle habits is a key preventive strategy for many diseases. The role of lifestyle for the onset of headache in general and for specific headache types, such as migraine and tension-type headache (TTH), has been discussed for many years. Most results, however, were inconsistent and data on the association between lifestyle factors and probable headache forms are completely lacking. We evaluated the cross-sectional association between different lifestyle factors and headache subtypes using data from three different German cohorts. Information was assessed by standardized face-to-face interviews. Lifestyle factors included alcohol consumption, smoking status, physical activity and body mass index. According to the 2004 diagnostic criteria, we distinguished the following headache types: migraine, TTH and their probable forms. Regional variations of lifestyle factors were observed. In the age- and gender-adjusted logistic regression models, none of the lifestyle factors was statistically significant associated with migraine, TTH, and their probable headache forms. In addition, we found no association between headache subtypes and the health index representing the sum of individual lifestyle factors. The lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity and overweight seem to be unrelated to migraine and TTH prevalence. For a judgement on their role in the onset of new or first attacks of migraine or TTH (incident cases), prospective cohort studies are required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Tension-Type Headache / epidemiology*
  • Tension-Type Headache / prevention & control