A new study appears to have found a link between the degenerative neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease and the removal of the appendix. An abstract about the study appeared in the publication Gastroenterology. The study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The new study used electronic health records of 62.2 million people in 26 health systems in the U.S. to track the link between Parkinson’s disease and appendectomy, or appendix removal. From those records, the team identified 488,190 people who had undergone an appendectomy. Nearly 4,500 of those individuals went on to receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, for a rate of 0.92 percent. In contrast, those who had not undergone an appendectomy developed Parkinson’s at a rate of 0.29 percent.
Based on these figures, appendix removal makes it three times more likely you’ll be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease some time later in life. The trend held despite the age, sex, or race of the individual.
Lead study author Dr. Mohammed Z. Sheriff, who works as a physician at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, said, “This research shows a clear relationship between the appendix, or appendix removal, and Parkinson’s disease, but it is only an association. Additional research is needed to confirm this connection and to better understand the mechanisms involved.” Dr. Sheriff plans on presenting the findings at the 2019 Digestive Disease Week meeting taking place May 18–21 in San Diego, CA.
Parkinson’s is a disease that most often strikes older people. The disease gradually destroys the cells in a part of the brain that helps control movement. Some common symptoms of the disease include movement rigidity, tremor, slowness, and balance difficulties. In 2016, an estimated 6.1 million people around the world had Parkinson’s disease. As yet, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and no treatment that slows down the progression of the disease.