Medical Mystery: Appendectomy Leads To Parkinson’s?

By Catharine Paddock PhD,  May 10, 2019

Medical News Today – An analysis of the health system records of more than 62 million people in the United States has found a link between appendix removal and raised risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Is there a link between having an appendectomy and developing Parkinson’s disease?

“This research shows a clear relationship between the appendix, or appendix removal, and Parkinson’s disease, but it is only an association.” – Dr. Mohammed Z. Sheriff

The researchers compared data on people who had undergone an appendectomy, or appendix removal, to those who had not.

The analysis showed that those who had undergone an appendectomy were more than three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later on.

The findings are further evidence of a connection between the gut and the brain in Parkinson’s disease.

Previous studies that have focused on the role of the appendix have drawn conflicting conclusions about whether having an appendectomy might raise or lower a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

For example, a 2016 Movement Disorders study of about 1.5 million people in Denmark found that people who had had an appendectomy were at slightly higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in the future.

In contrast, a 2018 Science Translational Medicine study of over 1.6 million people in Sweden tied appendix removal to a lower risk and delay in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

This controversy spurred the new study investigators to embark on a much more extensive analysis that drew on the electronic health records of 62.2 million people in 26 health systems in the U.S.

In a Gastroenterology abstract about the study, the authors suggest that what is missing from the research on appendix removal and Parkinson’s disease risk is “large-scale epidemiological data.” Read more. Image: Sir William Richard Gowers, United States public domain.

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