Drinking Just Three Cups Of Coffee A Day Can Trigger Migraine Attacks, Study Finds

Julia Banim


Coffee Migraine Caffeine Migraine AttacksColin and Sarah Northway/Flickr/Pixabay

Admittedly, my day cannot fully begin until I’ve had at least two cups of coffee. I’ve been trying to kick this habit for some time but have so far been unsuccessful.

Indeed, I write this article over the sort of pitch black concoction designed to keep your eyes pinned open for hours on end. I don’t sleep well, and caffeine remains my go-to sticking plaster for keeping my tired brain whirring away throughout the working day.

I know I’m certainly not alone on this one, with many people being all too happy to admit their love-hate reliance on caffeine. However, those who suffer from migraines may want to readdress their coffee bean consumption.

Coffee migraine health studyPixabay

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine, drinking three or more cups of coffee a day is linked to the onset of a migraine attack among those who suffer from episodic migraine attacks.

Researchers tracked 98 sufferers of episodic migraines, who suffered migraine attacks on up to 14 days out of month. It was discovered consuming up to two cups of coffee, or other caffeinated drinks, didn’t make a difference to the chances of developing a migraine attack.

However, after three cups of coffee, the chances of experiencing an attack on the same day rose by 40 per cent. After five cups, this figure rose by a staggering 161 per cent.

Study leader Elizabeth Mostofsky, from Harvard University’s department of epidemiology, told Healthline:

I was pleasantly surprised to see one to two servings was not associated with the odds of having a migraine headache and it was three or more servings that lead to a migraine on that day or on the following day.

Coffee migraine health studyPixabay

Study participants completed two electronic diary entries per day over the course of a six week period, reporting their caffeine intake and lifestyle factors (e.g. medication, psychological stress and depressive symptoms). They also recorded the onset, duration and characteristics of their migraines.

The research team then used this data to examine the likelihood of migraine attacks on days where participants drank caffeine compared to days where they didn’t.

Mostofsky told Healthline:

We were simultaneously looking at exposures like sleep habits, weather, physical activity.

We collected a lot of information from these individuals, and in this particular study looking at caffeinated beverages and the immediate risk of migraine, what we were able to do by collecting these other lifestyle factors is to say, even accounting for all other factors, we’re still seeing this higher odds of migraine headache with three or more servings of caffeine.

Coffee migraine health studyPexels

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom for those of us who would happily consume coffee via an intravenous drip. The beverage has previously been linked to health benefits such as improved cognitive function and even greater longevity.

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Topics: Food, coffee, Study


American Journal Of Medicine and 1 other
  1. American Journal Of Medicine

    Prospective Cohort Study of Caffeinated Beverage Intake as a Potential Trigger of Headaches among Migraineurs

  2. Healthline

    Study Finds 3 Cups of Coffee May Trigger Migraine

Julia Banim
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