The Checkup: Why You Should Love Brain Freeze

Sure, brain freeze is no fun. But finding out what causes ice cream headaches may help scientists treat migraines.

• Here’s something you probably thought you’d never get excited about: brain freeze. Researchers say they’ve figured out what causes those pesky, cold-food-induced headaches; what’s more, this finding could help doctors treat more severe headaches like migraines. A new study led by a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School found a link between brain freeze and sudden changes in blood flow in the brain’s anterior cerebral artery. The study involved 13 healthy adults who drank cold water—I know, I know, why not froyo, right?—through a straw aimed at the roof of their mouths. Participants raised their hands when they felt the icy shock of brain freeze and again when the pain subsided. By tracking the flow of blood in the brain, researchers saw that the pain was connected to the swelling and constricting of the anterior cerebral artery. This accelerated blood flow could raise pressure in the brain and thus cause the telltale ice-cream headache. The quick decrease in blood flow may be the brain’s way of reducing this pressure before it reaches a dangerous level. The research team says that similar changes in blood flow may be what causes migraines and other post-traumatic headaches—meaning, drugs that block sudden blood-vessel dilation could be a good treatment option. Interesting, right? TIME has the full story.

• Aspirin: the wonder drug? A new study found it lowers lung cancer risk in women by at least 50 percent.

• The U.S. government has approved the publication of two highly-controversial studies on the H5N1 avian flu virus. While experts worry that their publication would threaten national security, the National Institution of Health declares that understanding, detecting and treating the bird flu virus—and its pandemic possibilities—is more important.