This microscope image provided by the Van Andel Research Institute in October 2018 shows an abnormal protein that is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease clumped inside the appendix. New research suggests Parkinson’s, a brain disease, may get its start in the gut _ specifically, the appendix. (Van Andel Research Institute via AP)

Appendix Removal Is Linked To Lower Parkinson's Risk

October 31, 2018 - 1:01 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have found a new clue that Parkinson's disease may get its start not in the brain but in the gut — the appendix, to be exact.

New research suggests the appendix acts as a reservoir for an abnormal protein that inside the brain becomes a hallmark of Parkinson's.

And medical records of nearly 1.7 million people in Sweden show removing the appendix early in life lowered risk of getting the tremor-inducing brain disease decades later.

But the researchers from Michigan's Van Andel Research Institute have a caution: Don't seek an appendectomy based on this apparent link. Plenty of people have no appendix yet still develop Parkinson's. Even if the findings pan out, scientists have lots to learn.

The research was reported Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine.

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