Griffith researchers have discovered that people who suffer from migraines may be genetically predisposed to suffering a stroke. Professor Lyn Griffiths and her team at the Genomics Research Centre on the Gold Coast have been studying migraines for about eight years. She said migraines affected about 18 per cent of women and six per cent of men and it had been known for some time that migraine sufferers had an increased risk of suffering stroke. Genomics Research Centre studies have identified a gene that may play a role in both conditions. The Centre has already identified areas on chromosomes 1, 19 and X where migraine genes are found. “The location of migraine genes on the female X chromosome may account for the fact that women are three times more prone to migraine than men – we believe this is because of the X chromosome,” Professor Griffiths said. More recently, Professor Griffiths’ team has been investigating candidate genes. “We’ve recently investigated a gene that predisposes individuals to stroke,” she said. “There’s a mutation in this gene that makes people more likely to suffer stroke and also increases the risk of migraine. We believe this to be a link between migraine and stroke.” But there is some good news for migraine sufferers – this particular gene results in a biochemical imbalance that may be addressed through diet changes. “By increasing folate levels in the diet, such as eating green leafy vegetables, this biochemical imbalance decreases, which consequently may reduce the risk of stroke and possibly migraine. “Identifying the defective genes common to both conditions may provide valuable clues about their cause and how best to treat and prevent these disorders.” Supported by the Brain Foundation, Professor Griffiths and her team are furthering their study and are looking for migraine sufferers in the Gold Coast area to become research volunteers.

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