Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall: Ice Cream Headache Survives them All

From the British Medical Journal Archives (courtesy of NCBI ROFL) an ice cream study which answers the question humans have been asking themselves through the ages: Do ice cream-evoked headaches (ICE-H) happen in the winter like they do in the summer?

Forget cancer! Thank God there are scientists to study these critical issues. Fellow ice cream eaters, the answer is yes, you can get an ice cream headache in the winter, at least if you’re a Canadian middle-schooler.

This important contribution to the world of science was determined by randomizing 145 middle-schoolers in Canada during the winter to one of two groups, after obtaining informed consent regarding the risks and benefits of eating ice cream quickly.  One group was instructed to eat their ice cream slowly; the other to consume their 100cc portion in less than 5 seconds. Almost unheard of in randomized trials, there were no refusals to participate and no participants were lost to follow-up.

The findings? About a quarter of the speedy ice cream eaters reported ice cream-evoked headache, compared to about 13% of the pokey eaters. Of those afflicted with this dreaded ice cream complication, a little over half suffered more than 10 seconds, although all returned to normal eventually. Although researchers reported a lifetime prevalence of ICE-H in their study group of about 80%, nobody reported that they would be avoiding ice cream in the future.

Why is it that I am never recruited for studies like this? Who at The Ohio State University is willing to go further with this critical work and do the translational research necessary to determine if the ICE-H has the same prevalence with ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, and sherbet? Gelato? Jeni’s vs. Graeters? Let me be the first to volunteer myself for the sake of the advancement of knowledge.

Read this important contribution to the scientific literature @:

BMJ 2002;325:1445-1446 ( 21 December )

Victoria Rentel, MD (OSU SHS)