Health scare of the week
A surprising link to Parkinson’s
People who have their appendix taken out are three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests. Previous research has found alpha-synuclein, a protein that often forms in clumps in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers, in the appendix. But studies exploring whether an appendectomy increases or decreases Parkinson’s risk have been inconsistent. To explore the link, researchers at Case Western Reserve University looked at data for 62.2 million patients, reports The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). They found that of the nearly 500,000 people who’d had appendectomies, 0.92 percent went on to get Parkinson’s—compared with only 0.29 percent of those who hadn’t had the procedure. The researchers say one possible explanation is that alpha-synuclein is released into the body during an appendectomy, and makes its way up to the brain. However, other studies have found weaker associations—and a Swedish study last year found that people who’d had their appendix removed in their youth had a lower chance of getting Parkinson’s.