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Clinical nutrition

Sulfite concentration and the occurrence of headache in young adults: a prospective study



Sulfites are additives commonly used in food and wine industries that are associated to adverse clinical effects such as headaches. The objective of this study is to investigate the possible association between sulfite concentration in wine and the occurrence of headaches in young adults.


Eighty volunteers, aged between 18 and 25 years, were evaluated. Sub-groups (with or without previous headaches related with wine) were created and volunteers were submitted to two wine tests (minimum and maximum sulfite concentration accordingly to weight). A questionnaire was handed out after the test regarding the presence or not of headaches, their main characteristics, as well as other symptoms associated.


Subjects that refer a previous headache history upon wine ingestion presented a risk 2266 greater of developing headaches after wine ingestion with a greater sulfite concentration. Those that refer constant headaches related to wine ingestion previous to the test present a risk of 6232 times more of developing headaches compared to those who refer sporadic headaches related to wine consumption.


In our group of subjects, sulfite concentration in wine is related to the risk of developing headaches in individuals who are susceptible to wine induced headaches.

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Correspondence to Maria Vaz Patto.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This project was validated by the Faculty of Health Sciences UBI Ethics Committee, Portugal. All the participants signed an informed consent.

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Silva, M., Gama, J., Pinto, N. et al. Sulfite concentration and the occurrence of headache in young adults: a prospective study. Eur J Clin Nutr 73, 1316–1322 (2019).

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