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New Health Scare

April 30, 2013

Being fat brings with it a wide variety of scary and life-threatening diseases — if you believe the way the research is reported. Why, at my level of fatness, I’m a heart attack/stroke/broken bone/diabetic coma waiting to happen! And if I don’t lose all that extra flab now, I could just keel over dead at any minute.

Yeah. Whatever. I’ve pretty much grown immune to the obesity panic that doctors and reporters are trying to stir up.

Today, however, in a migraine group on Facebook, my direction was directed toward an article titled “Weight and migraines — What’s the real relationship?As you can probably guess from the title, the article is all about how being fat makes migraines worse.

After commenting on the wide range of diseases obesity “causes” (excuse me, increases your risk for), the author, a Dr. Marcus, then states:

Skinny people also get migraines and weight problems don’t cause you to become someone with migraines, but obesity is connected with pain severity.

I see this type of thing often when reading about how obesity is concerned with whatever the issue is today (including fat people using up all the non-renewable resources like crude oil for fueling transportation). They make wide-ranging statements that include 1) the need for almost everybody in the world to lose weight (false statement); 2) give a series of statements that show causality for illnesses and death that are not necessarily caused by obesity, mixed in with a phrase such as “is implicated in” or “may increase your risk for,” which leads a person to take away that obesity causes all these things; and 3) then goes on to state “while skinny people get X disease too, fat people bring it on themselves.” Okay, not in so many words, but…

Increased weight is linked with increased sensitivity to pain. Fat cells release a range of chemicals, called cytokines, that increase inflammation and also change the pain response. Several articles have recently described a link between migraine and obesity, including a review articles in the journals Current Pain and Headache Reports and  Revue Neurologique and a patient resource published in the journal Headache.

  • People who are obese have a higher risk of having migraines
  • People who are obese are at higher risk for the progression to more frequent or chronic migraine
  • Weight loss appears to result in migraine improvement

So, fatty, just suck it up, because these un-linked to articles — that you plebes can’t get to because they are industry-specific and you’ll never pay for one issue of those journals — say there’s a relationship between obesity and migraines. These articles say it’s your fault, Fatty McFatterson, for how much pain you are in because if you’d only lose the weight, you wouldn’t feel pain so much, even though you’ll still get the migraines. Oh, and because you are fat, you’ll get more migraines than the skinny person does.

Marcus does say, in bold text even, “Losing weight won’t cure your migraines“, but then goes on immediately to add, “but it may make them less severe and help prevent you from developing more frequent attacks or chronic migraine.

I have been steady in my weight for years, and yet my migraine frequency cycles. Some years are really good years, where I have one, or maybe two all year. Some years are really bad years where I’m forced to go to the hospital for relief because the pain is just that bad. Most times, I have years where I have 4-8 migraines a year. I consider myself fortunate on that, as my heart sister has had migraines as frequently as daily for years.

I started having migraines when I was skinny (although my mother didn’t believe my headaches were migraines, and when I once asked her what a migraine was, she told me if I had to ask what it felt like I didn’t have them). In high school, when I first became fat, I had about one migraine a year. Yes, as I increased weight, the frequency of migraines increased. But other factors also increased: stress, age, eating trigger foods (which I’ve finally identified and minimize intake of, and so helped to minimize the frequency of my migraines), identifying non-food triggers and avoiding them when possible.

In the midst of my fat period (i.e., my life since puberty), I have not increased migraine activity in the same way that my weight has fluctuated. As a matter of fact, the two years I was at my lowest adult, post-puberty weight (due to the doctor putting me on Metformin for my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), I had the most instances of severe migraines (ones that made me go to the ER, and which brought with it visual hallucinations (sometimes referred to as an aura).

So, yeah.  I really brought those migraines on myself by being fat.

At the end of the article, is the truly insulting part, and it’s also standard.

But decreasing weight can be tough. A recent article from PLOS One offers insight into successful a novel weight loss strategy. Researchers compared online social media networking through Facebook with obesity. In general, people accessing activity-related areas were 12 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. People accessing television-related areas, on the other hand, had a 4 percent higher rate of overweight and obesity. So check where you’re spending your social media time. Try trading looking at sedentary pursuits with more physically demanding activities and see if that helps boost your weight loss.

I added a comment to the Facebook page (as one can’t comment on the article itself) which stated (and yes I am block quoting myself):

After reading that article, I could not imagine a way to write it that would be 1) more pandering to the weight loss industry, or 2) more insulting to people who are afflicted by a disease they did not bring on themselves.

Because, you know, all of us fat people never, Ever, EVAH exercise. We all just sit around all day, watching TV and Facebooking about the TV we’ve watched, and eat junk food and bonbons all day. 

I’m disgusted that even here we are being blamed for our own disease, when most of us are doing everything we can to mitigate the frequency and the intensity of migraine episodes.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2013 10:31 am

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    Interestingly enough, my average weight son has always suffered far worse headaches than my fat self does. I occasionally get very severe headaches, to the point where I have a halo around my vision or lose most of the sight in my left eye. My son has had more frequent headaches so severe that he has to be in a completely dark room and the only thing that makes the headache go away is time and sleep.
    Again, my son is average weight. I am fat. I suffer far fewer severe headaches.
    So….tell me again how adipose tissue causes migraines?

  2. vesta44 permalink
    April 30, 2013 11:18 am

    I’ve had migraines since I was a teenager and I wasn’t fat back then. Getting fat didn’t increase the number of migraines I had, and it sure didn’t make them any more painful – they’ve always been headbanging painful (banging my head against a brick wall would have hurt less than those migraines). Up until I saw a neurologist for them, the only thing that would end one of them was going into a totally silent, dark room and trying to sleep them off (and that could take two days of sleep to happen). Now I have meds that I take every day, and instead of getting two or three migraines a week, I now get maybe one every other month or so and they’re much less severe. I’d say this doctor just wants another reason to blame/shame/bully fat people. Sad thing is that a lot of fat people will buy his theory and maybe not get the help that’s available for them, because they think they’ve “brought it on themselves” and deserve to suffer until they get thin and therefore deserve to get help managing their migraine episodes.

  3. April 30, 2013 12:53 pm

    My doctor has been blaming my weight for my migraines for years. But when I was thin, it was menstrual. So infuriating that my fatness is the cause of all problems in the world! It makes me hesitant to complain or ask for help when someone is going to throw fatphobia in my face when ever they have the opportunity.

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      May 6, 2013 2:15 pm

      I have a friend who has terrible sinusitis, and who’s never been able to find out what’s wrong. She’s fat now, and so of course, all the doctors tell her it’s her weight, and won’t even do tests to find out what’s wrong. Cuz you know, she should just stop being lazy and lose weight.

      Funny thing though, she had it this bad when she was in the military, and you KNOW she wasn’t fat then. The doctors couldn’t find what was causing the sinusitis then, but at least they didn’t have her weight to blame.

  4. Marilyn permalink
    April 30, 2013 1:27 pm

    I’m suffering from a bad headache at this moment. I’m currently thin. This week, I had a lot of headaches. No correlation between headaches and weight. I get most of my headaches when recovering from the flu, cold or strep throat. Being thin makes it more likely that I’ll get sick, therefore, being thin causes me to have more headaches. Reverse of the article.

  5. April 30, 2013 3:36 pm

    Had regular, frequent, crippling ER-visiting for morphine migraines in my 20s and 30s, when I weighed considerably less than I do now. Not had one in over 10 years, despite gaining 60 pounds since then.

  6. Rubyfruit permalink
    April 30, 2013 4:58 pm

    I am angry at the blame-for-diseases, and yet I’m no longer surprised. The lack of surprise doesn’t make me less angry, though. But then, every ache and pain experienced by a fat person is used to frighten that person into a new fad diet or into a new exercise routine which then has to be carried out under massively reduced calories, so I’m not surprised that migraines (and probably headaches in general?) are blamed on being fat. It’s another way to scare people, not just fat people, into buying the diet books and plans and subscribing to websites.

  7. lifeonfats permalink
    May 1, 2013 4:49 pm

    I had one migraine when I was about 6 or 7. Now, my headaches are either brought on by extreme heat or sinus headaches. Fat has nothing to do with it. My pain threshold is very high and I can tolerate a lot of pain. It’s going to get the point that any ailment that affects people of all sizes will ultimately be blamed on weight.

  8. Dizzyd permalink
    May 6, 2013 12:55 pm

    How do they know that migraines are not caused by all the stupidity we have to deal with from fat-phobes (inc. so-called ‘medical experts’) with bigger mouths than brains? I know it’s enough to give ME a headache!

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      May 6, 2013 2:15 pm

      I wonder if we could get funding for a study on that… 😉

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