Researchers from the University Hospital Marques de Valdecilla, in Santander, Spain studied the relationship between migraine and smoking.

First, the details.

  • 361 medical students completed questionnaire — 245 (68%) were women.

And, the results.

  • International Headache Society criteria were fulfilled by 58 (16%) students.
  • 74 (20%) were current smokers.
  • The percentage of smokers was higher (29%) in those who were also migraine sufferers.
  • Migraine frequency in students who were migraine sufferers and smokers was higher than in those who were non-smokers and migraine sufferers.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that smoking can be a precipitating factor for migraine attacks, and there appears to be a relationship between the number of cigarettes smoked and the development of migraine attacks.”


Do cigarettes trigger migraine, or does migraine increase the likelihood of smoking cigarettes?

Researchers from the University of Auckland, in New Zealand conducted a study to clarify the direction of the relation between smoking and frequent headaches. They concluded, “Frequent headaches during mid-adolescence appear to increase the risk of daily smoking in adolescence and adulthood.”

A PubMed search to update this post revealed a different perspective on the smoking/migraine association. Researchers at the University of Munster, in Germany, reviewed research on the association between different lifestyle factors and headache. They report, “Llifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, and overweight seem to be unrelated to migraine.”

6/28/09 20:47 JR, updated 2/3/11 21:10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.