Maybe the appendix actually does something then?

People who have their appendix removed are three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, new research indicates.

The largest ever study of the relationship between the gut and the debilitating nervous system disorder involved the analysis of more than 62 million patients records.

Researchers found that patients who had their appendix removed were more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those whose appendix remained in place.

I offer no guidance on whether this is silly or not. Only that it’s interesting – have they found some actual use for the appendix, finally?

Bit of an odd thing to note this late tho’. Both Parkinson’s and appendectomy have been around and known a long time.

One other thought:

The researchers analysed electronic health records representing more than 62.2 million patients and identified those who had appendectomies and were diagnosed with Parkinson’s at least six months later.

Is this a rare use of data mining working properly?

20 thoughts on “Maybe the appendix actually does something then?”

  1. More likely to be the other way round, isn’t it. They don’t usually yank the appendix out without reason.
    So: 1) Are the causes of appendicitis & Parkinsons linked?
    2)Could contracting appendicitis induce Parkinsons?

  2. For the last decade or so there’s been the theory that the appendix acts as a reserve of “good” gut bacteria, so if you survive something like cholera or typhoid(*) the gut can then be restocked with the sort of bugs it needs to function properly. Quite what effect that would have on later dementias I have no idea.

    (*) Before antibiotics ~90% of typhoid victims and ~40% of cholera victims would survive.

  3. bloke in spain has it right.

    A squishy, 4-inch gut organ whose function has baffled anatomists for centuries is about to have its moment of fame: The lowly appendix, scientists reported in a study on Wednesday, can initiate Parkinson’s disease.

    It does so, they suspect, by serving as a reservoir of misfolded, clumping, neurotoxic proteins that travel to the brainstem via the vagus nerve, which runs from the gut all the way up to the brain.

  4. Hmm

    Correlation is not causation but on the face of it this is good news

    As others have pointed out the mechanism has not been identified

    Diagnosis of Parkinson’s happens at all stages of the disease, this could be coincidence, the suspiciously round number of 6 months seems to indicate that they were looking for this and duly found it.

    That’s how climate ‘science’ works…

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    There’s a story about a nurse who could smell early Parkinson’s disease on the shirts of patients. When she was sent a batch of shirts she correctly identified all the Parkinson’s disease sufferers, except on which they thought she’d given a false positive. It turned out that the patient developed Parkinson’s 6 months or so later.

  6. BiND,

    I thought it was a dog. Ah well. We used to say “A teacher often, a nurse always.” Perhaps it was a dog.

    Anyway, I’m f*cked. I need that time machine to go back to 1956 and get my appendix back. Filthy rat, that Parkinson, anyway.

  7. Just a thought- did they search for people who have Parkinson’s and still have their appendix?

    Surely that would be just as valuable information?

  8. Just a thought- did they search for people who have Parkinson’s and still have their appendix?

    That would be the control group surely?

  9. So they are going to leave the infected appendices in now?

    At least they provided the actual numbers in the report, and not just the sensational ‘trebles the risk.’

    0.92 per cent vs 0.29 per cent.

    So you have very little chance of getting Parkinson’s. If they remove your appendix, you have very little chance of getting Parkinson’s.

  10. ‘People who have their appendix removed are three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, new research indicates.’

    So the untold billions spent on EHR, and all the physicians who have quit over the burden, are all worthwhile.

  11. I didn’t realise this was outside the Telegraph paywall
    At the end of the story:

    “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.”

    So, promising. It suggets an increased risk but not cause

    So what do people who have appendectomies have in common? How does that relate to Parkinsons’s?

    Diet or environmental factors spring to mind

  12. And the missing data are…

    How many Alzheimer sufferers still have their appendix, and how many people have had appendectomies and have not developed Alzheimer?

    Causality must be accompanied by correlation… not just sometimes but all the time, every case, otherwise other factors cannot be ruled out, nor can coincidence.

    Next week we correlate in-growing toenails with voting intentions.

  13. John B – brilliant. Correlation is not causation, but without correlation there can’t be causation. Sure, we know this – it means that science is hard.

  14. @Excavator

    You can have causation without correlation too – nonlinear relationships which go up then down or vice versa so the overall correlation is zero (though at least you might be able to spot the U shape on a graph), or worse still when the correlation is completely hidden due to confounding factors or system feedback.

  15. John B & Excavator Man

    Tell that to the Global Warming bods: struggle to find temperature data correlating with CO2 emissions.

  16. @starfish May 9, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Ah, climate “science”:

    “The journalist Toby Young has been looking at yesterdays rather lurid story
    about biodiversity, and the claim that a million species are going to be
    lost if we dont become communists. Or something like that.

    Young appears to have done some brief research and has shown that the
    underlying estimates, sponsored by the UN, are bunk. The authors of the
    report have taken some data from official “Red List” of threatened species
    and extrapolated it in precisely the way that the Red List authors say
    should not be done. They have then published a somewhat hysterical press
    release, but not the underlying report.

    This is a familiar story for anyone who is interested in environmentalism,
    but Young has been rather taken aback, both at the shoddiness of the
    research and the way the press have dealt with it. After all, if some brief
    research has revealed to Young (with a degree in PPE) that some scientific
    research is nonsense, surely the massed ranks of science journalists would
    have been expected to find the problems too? But of course, as eco-nerds
    know, science journalists see themselves as part of the green movement and
    asking questions is therefore frowned upon….”

  17. From reading any ‘science’ report in The Times (and they’re probably above the average standard), it’s obvious that they don’t even have any subs with a science A-level. Confusing power and energy is a favourite.

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