Posted on Nov 02, 2018, 5 p.m.
Having an appendectomy would appear to have the unexpected advantage of reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease by as much as 25% according to a study from the Van Andel Research Institute.
Researchers examined data from 1.7 million people to find having your appendix removed is linked to 19.3% reduction in risk of development of Parkinson’s disease in the general population; in rural areas there was a 25% reduction is risk. It was also found that those who had an appendectomy had later onset of the disorder by on average 3.6 years.
Researchers are now looking at the appendix as a possible site of origin for the disease and to find a path forward to devise new treatments and strategies that may leverage the GI tract’s role in development of Parkinson’s.
The appendix has a reputation for being unnecessary, but it does play roles in the immune system, in regulating makeup of gut bacteria, and now this study shows it also plays roles in Parkinson’s disease.
The disorder currently is an incurable neurodegenerative disease accompanied with tremors, balance issues, and gastrointestinal problems, which seems to be more common among those living in rural areas.
Toxic proteins found in the appendix such as alpha synuclein build up in the brain and kill nerves; it is possible for these toxic proteins to travel from the GI tract via the vagus nerve to reach the brain.
This breakthrough lights a spark of hope to searches for a cure, and findings add weight to understandings of the relationship between the gut and the brain.
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