L oma Linda, California, USA ... [ANN] Limiting the intake of fatty foods can reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches, according to research conducted by a recent graduate of the School of Public Health’s department of preventive care at Loma Linda

University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution.

Zuzana Bic, MD, DrPH, a 1997 graduate of the School of Public Health, presented the findings of her doctoral research at the 38th annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Headache (AASH), held in San Diego, California. Her findings were published in abstract form in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain (volume 36, no. 4).

Since then, a variety of magazines have included almost two dozen articles mentioning or featuring her findings.

Her review of the literature on the subject revealed that two primary factors are involved in triggering migraine headaches: high levels of blood lipids and high levels of free fatty acids.

"Under these conditions," says Dr. Bic. "Platelet aggregability [tendency to cluster] is increased." These conditions cause "vasodilation," or dilation of the blood vessels, the most immediate precursor to a migraine headache.

"A high-fat diet is one factor that may directly affect this process," concludes Dr. Bic, who undertook the study to evaluate the impact of dietary fat intake on the incidence and severity of migraine headaches.

Dr. Bic conducted her study over a 12-week period, involving 54 individuals previously diagnosed with migraine headaches.

During the first 28 days, the subjects recorded all food consumption in a dietary diary, as well as maintaining a headache diary.

At the end of the 28 days, the participants were individually counseled on ways to limit fat intake to no more than 20 grams per day. A 28-day trial run period was allowed for subjects to adapt to the low-fat diet. The study results were recorded during a final 28-day period.

Dr. Bic found that the reduced intake of dietary fat by an average of 60 percent was associated with a 71 percent decrease in headache frequency, a 66 percent decrease in headache intensity, a 74 percent decrease in the duration of the migraine headache, and a 72 percent reduction in the amount of medications taken to treat the symptoms. [Larry Kidder/LLU News]