Past studies have warned that men and women with visceral fat—excess belly fat—have an increased risk of acquiring heart disease and diabetes. A new study conducted by Philadelphia’s Drexel University College of Medicine suggests that a larger waist circumference increases the risk of developing migraines and severe headaches.

By analyzing more than 22,000 patients, researchers found that people between the ages of 20 to 25 with excess belly fat had a significant increase in migraines. They also found that women with extra belly fat were 30 percent more likely to experience migraines than women without excess belly fat, even after accounting for overall obesity, risk factors for heart disease, and demographic characteristics. The correlation between belly fat and migraines in men in this age group was not statistically significant when accounting for these factors.

But losing belly fat does not necessarily mean eliminating headaches. “This may be one piece of the puzzle,” said lead researcher B. Lee Peterlin, DO. “This does not suggest that if you lose your extra abdominal fat it will cure your migraines. But it may be a clue to help explain the sexual dimorphism (gender differences) in migraine [occurrences].”