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Half of the world’s population affected by headaches


QWhether caused by a drunken evening, a very bright day or an excessive workload, migraines are part of the daily life of billions of human beings. This is the observation that made, Tuesday, April 12, The Journal of Headache And Pain, by publishing a study that testifies to the universality of headaches. By combining the results of several hundred previous scientific works, spread out from 1961 to 2020, the scientific publication has found that more than 50% of the world’s population is subject to more or less repeated headaches every year.

Even more strikingly, note The Parisian : every day, 15.8% of the world’s population suffers from migraine… that is 1,232,400,000 people, every day, by estimating the world population at 7.8 billion human beings. The Journal of Headache And Pain notes, moreover, that women are significantly more affected than men: 57.8% of them report at least one episode of migraine per year, against 44.4% for men.

But where do headaches come from?

An over-representation of migraines in developed countries?

“It probably has to do with female sex hormones, and in particular fluctuations in estrogen. In addition, the living situation of women can play a role,” says Lars Jacob Stovner, professor of neurology at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). In general, however, children are less affected than adults, with migraines becoming more frequent after puberty, occurring mainly “in young and middle-aged adults”. Indeed, from the age of 60, they are much more discreet.

The study also appears to report a noticeable increase in the number of headaches – the scientific name for headache – in recent years. However, scientists remain cautious. According to The Parisian, they believe that the majority of variations in their statistics are, for the time being, unexplained. On the other hand, they point out that the majority of the cases identified come from developed countries, with effective health systems. But it is impossible to say whether there is a real difference with the underdeveloped countries, or whether this cannot be explained by the scarcity of the surveys carried out there.

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