Forty years ago, people were having their appendix removed for fun. Along with taking out tonsils, this was the biggest just-in-case surgical procedure around—but now it's been discovered that having an appendectomy triples the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
Like so many diseases, Parkinson's—a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system—starts in the gut, and the appendix helps regulate proteins that have been linked to the condition.
When researchers from the Case Western Reserve University looked at the health records of more than 62 million patients, the 488,000 who had had their appendix removed were three times more likely to develop Parkinson's than others who hadn't had the procedure.
The risk was the same across both genders, all ages and race, the researchers said, and the first signs of the condition could appear within six months of surgery. An early tell-tale warning is the appearance of alpha synuclein proteins in the gastrointestinal tract, and these are usually controlled by the appendix.
(Source: Proceedings from Digestive Disease Week, May 20, 2019)
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