A study has found not eating breakfast can increase the risk for brain hemorrhage stroke. The findings add to the mounting scientific evidence that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and could help in the prevention of stroke.

A team of Japanese researchers analyzed more than 80,000 adults in Japan without histories of cancer or heart disease. The participants' age ranged between 45 and 74 years old. These men and women were monitored from 1995 to 2010 during the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study.

During the 15-year study period, the participants were asked about their daily breakfast habits. They were grouped based on the number of times they ate breakfast in a week from zero (none) to seven (complete).

The research team led by Dr. Yasuhiko Kubota documented 3,772 strokes and 870 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) during the 15-year follow-up study. Among the strokes, there were 1,051 cerebral hemorrhages, 2,286 cerebral infarctions and 417 were subarachnoid hemorrhages.

Findings showed that more than 1,000 participants who had brain hemorrhage stroke were also the people who never ate breakfast. The team said that one of brain hemorrhage strokes' leading causes is high blood pressure. Many of strokes happen in the morning compared to latter hours in the day. Notably, the participants who ate breakfast had lower blood pressure compared to those who constantly skip the morning meals.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the associations of breakfast intake frequency with cardiovascular events that include not only CHD but also stroke and its subtypes in an Asian population," wrote the researchers.

Past U.S. studies, including the 2013 research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health also associated not eating breakfast with increased risks of heart disease and strokes. However, the current Japanese study didn't find the connection between skipping breakfast and coronary heart disease.

The Japanese researchers noted that the difference in study results may be due to the different study populations. In Japan, coronary heart disease rates are lower compared to the rates in the Western countries. However, the rates of strokes, especially brain hemorrhage is higher.

Critics pointed out that the documented strokes and breakfast-eating habits in the Japanese study were purely coincidental, it remains that skipping morning meals is a clear sign of unhealthy eating behaviors. The Japanese study was published in the journal Stroke on Jan. 5.

Photo: Mark Longair | Flickr 

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