Science 2 min read

Study Shows Appendix Removal Increases Parkinson's Chances

Your appendix, it's useless, right? Well, apparently not. According to new research, removing your appendix may lead to an increased chance of suffering from Parkinson's.

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In a recent study, researchers have discovered a link between the appendix and Parkinson’s.

Appendicitis is the most common cause of acute abdominal pain in the United States, and over 5 percent of the country’s population develops it at some point. To treat this medical condition, surgeons usually have to perform a procedure to remove the inflamed appendix.

Since evolution has rendered the organ useless in the human body, there’s no harm done right?

According to Dr. Mohammed Sheriff, a physician at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Centre, that may not be true.

After analyzing the medical record of over 62 million patients, Dr. Sheriff and his colleagues discovered that people who had their appendix removed were three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who still had the organ.

The Link Between Our Appendix and Parkinson’s Diseases

Recent studies have linked Parkinson’s with alpha-synuclein – a protein found in the gastrointestinal tract in the early onset of the debilitating nervous system disorder.

Dr. Sheriff noted that: 

“This is why scientists around the world have been looking into the gastrointestinal tract, including the appendix, for evidence about the development of Parkinson’s.”

Unfortunately, the past findings were inconsistent and contradicted each other, leaving the researchers confused. While some studies noted a link between patients without the organ and a likelihood of developing Parkinson’s, others found none.

To answer this question once and for all, Dr. Sheriff and his colleagues decided to use the U.S. data from an Ohio-based electronic health records company.

By analyzing over 62.2 million patients’ electronic health records, the researchers identified those who had their appendix removed and were diagnosed with Parkinson’s within six months.

Of the 488,190 patients who had undergone appendectomies, 4,470 developed Parkinson’s. Meanwhile, only 177,230 of the remaining 61.7 million patients that didn’t undergo the surgery developed the disease.

Based on this analysis, patients who removed their appendix were more than three times as likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who had not.

According to Dr. Sheriff:

“This research shows a clear relationship between the appendix, or appendix removal, and Parkinson’s disease, but it is only an association.”

The doctor admitted that more research is required to not only confirm the connection but also understand the mechanism involves.

Read More: New Stem Cell Treatment Could Mean End of Parkinson’s Disease

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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