NMA: Nonprescription Medicines Academy

High Caffeine Intake Associated With Episodic Headache

September 30th, 2009

Data from more than 50,000 participants in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey (HUNT 2) study in Norway showed a weak but significant association between high caffeine consumption and prevalence of infrequent headache.

The researchers estimated participants’ daily caffeine consumption from self-reported dietary intake of coffee and tea, as well as use of ergotamine tablets and suppositories by headache patients. Participants were divided into quartiles based on total daily caffeine consumption; the top quartile (high caffeine) was defined as >540 mg/day (equivalent to 6 cups of brew coffee), and the bottom quartile was defined as <240 mg/day. Multivariate analyses that adjusted for age, gender, smoking status, and level of education were performed to evaluate the association between caffeine consumption and headache, using existing data on the prevalence of headache in the study cohort.

In the multivariate analyses, a weak but significant association (odds ratio = 1.16; 95% confidence interval, 1.09–1.23) was found between high caffeine consumption and prevalence of infrequent headache. In contrast⎯and somewhat surprisingly⎯individuals with high caffeine consumption were less likely than individuals with low caffeine consumption to experience chronic headache (>14 days/month).

The authors caution that because the study is cross-sectional, it cannot be concluded that high caffeine consumption causes infrequent headache.

J Headache Pain. 2009;10(3):153-9. Epub 2009 Mar 24.
Author: Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz, BPharm
Date: September, 2009