A study by Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center found that having your appendix removed was associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
For the study, researchers analyzed more than 62.2 million patients and identified those who had appendectomies and were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at least six months later.
Among the 488,190 patients who had undergone appendectomies, 4,470, or 0.92 percent, went on to develop Parkinson’s. Of the remaining, 61.7 million patients with appendectomies, they identified only 177,230, or 0.29 percent, who developed the disease.
Researchers say they found similar risk levels across all age groups, regardless of gender or race.
“Recent research into the cause of Parkinson’s has centered around alpha synuclein, a protein found in the gastrointestinal tract early in the onset of Parkinson’s,” said Mohammed Z. Sheriff, MD, lead author of the study and a physician at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Ohio. “This is why scientists around the world have been looking into the gastrointestinal tract, including the appendix, for evidence about the development of Parkinson’s.”
Researchers caution that the research shows a relationship, but it’s only an association.