How Might the Appendix Play a Key Role in Parkinson's Disease?

Most people forget they even have an appendix unless it bursts or becomes inflamed, but a new study suggests the organ may play a key role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Those who have their appendixes removed in young adulthood run a nearly 20 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s decades later, according to a study published this week in Science Translational Medicine.

Malú Tansey, a professor of physiology at Emory University who did not take part of the study, agrees research into the connection between inflammation and Parkinson’s might eventually lead the way to treatments and better diagnosis. She says it is possible that avoiding inflammation in the gut—through good diet and exercise, medications or probiotics—might be protective against Parkinson’s. Dr. Tansey is a faculty member in the IMP and NS programs.

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