No appendix? Your risk of Parkinson’s is reduced by more than 20%

No appendix? Your risk of Parkinson’s is reduced by more than 20%
No appendix? Your risk of Parkinson’s is reduced by more than 20%

Having your appendix removed comes with an unexpected advantage; scientists have discovered that an appendectomy reduces the risk of Parkinson’s by up to 25 percent.

Scientists from the Van Andel Research Institute in Michigan examined data on 1.7 million people in Sweden and found that having an appendectomy is linked to a 19.3 percent reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s in a general population. For those living in rural areas it was even more advantageous, as there was a 25-percent reduction in disease risk, the study reveals.

“Our results point to the appendix as a site of origin for Parkinson’s and provide a path forward for devising new treatment strategies that leverage the gastrointestinal tract’s role in the development of the disease,”said the study’s lead author, Dr Viviane Labrie.

“Despite having a reputation as largely unnecessary, the appendix actually plays a major part in our immune systems, in regulating the makeup of our gut bacteria and now, as shown by our work, in Parkinson’s disease.”

Parkinson’s is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that brings with it tremors, balance issues and gastrointestinal problems. It is more common among those living in rural areas.

Toxic proteins, alpha synuclein, build up in the brain and kill nerves. These proteins are found in the appendix. It is possible for alpha-synuclein to travel from the gastrointestinal tract via the vagus nerve and reach the brain. 

READ MORE: Breakthrough in Parkinson’s research sparks hope for cure

Researchers also found those with Parkinson’s who had an appendectomy had a later onset of the disorder by an average of 3.6 years.

The findings add further weight to the understanding of the relationship between the gut and the brain.

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