As far as our internal organs go, the appendix has one of the worst reputations. When we aren’t just ignoring it as what is widely believed to be a useless part of our anatomy, we’re cursing it for causing us pain when it becomes inflamed with appendicitis. For those who have gone through the ordeal of getting an appendectomy, they know the procedure can come with a lot of discomfort — especially if the pesky appendix actually bursts before they can take it out.
Chances are, most people don’t think of themselves as lucky while going through the process of getting their appendix removed, but a new study might change that perspective. According to the research from Science Translational Medicine, published in October 2018, our appendixes can hold onto a certain protein which has been closely linked to Parkinson’s disease.
“Our results point to the appendix as a site of origin for Parkinson’s,” Dr. Viviane Labrie, an assistant professor at Van Andel Research Institute and senior author of the study, explained to the Australian Hospital Healthcare Bulletin. “Despite having a reputation as largely unnecessary, the appendix actually plays a major part in our immune systems, in regulating the make-up of our gut bacteria, and now, as shown by our work, in Parkinson’s disease.”
The study’s results showed that “the overall risk of developing Parkinson’s was significantly decreased by 19.3 percent” in individuals who’ve undergone an appendectomy compared to the general population. The researchers also found that percentage of decrease rose to 25.4 percent in rural areas.
According to the study, environmental factors like the use of pesticides in rural areas linked to Parkinson’s. The research also claims that having the appendix taken out earlier in life (about 30 years before the onset of Parkinson’s symptoms) can push back an eventual diagnosis of the degenerative disorder by more than three years. Because most symptoms start to appear in our 50s, having had your appendix removed before your 20th birthday might come with more perks than just getting rid of the inflamed organ.