Appendix Function Finally Found, Important In Fighting Infection

By Duna Bil , Jan 11, 2017 10:03 AM EST
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HAMBURG, GERMANY - JUNE 02: A patient suffering from hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication that can lead to kidney failure, convulsions and epileptic seizures and caused by enterohemorrhagic E. coli, also known as the EHEC bacteria, lies in a bed in the Nephrology Unit at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf on June 2, 2011 in Hamburg, Germany. German health authorities are continung to grapple with the current outbreak of EHEC and claim that initial suspicions of cucumbers from Spain as being the source are unfounded, though they warn against consuming raw vegetables. The University Medical Center has the highest number of patients infected with EHEC as well as 102 patients who have come down with HUS. Authorites are reporting at least 2,000 cases of EHEC infection nationwide and at least 470 cases of HUS. Across Europe at least 17 people have died from the outbreak. (Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

This week, the elusive question about the appendix function have finally been given answer by a group of scientists. According to researchers from the Midwestern University of Arizona, the appendix, which has been previously considered useless, actually has a role to play in the body. It is found to be a haven for good bacteria, providing support to the immune system.

It is not the first time that the appendix is associated with immune function but it is the first time that it has been statistically validated. Good bacteria are found to be residing in the appendix, a tiny organ in the digestive tract. These kind of bacteria help fend off infectious stomach bugs that cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Appendix function is found to be responsible for improving overall health as it enhances the body's natural defense system. In another study in 2012, patients that have their appendix removed were found to be four times more susceptible to colitis caused by Clostridium Difficile. It is a common stomach problem which infected only 11 percent of patients with their appendix intact , but 48 percent of those without it

According to the Business Insider, the new research also explored the evolutionary aspect of the appendix. They found that throughout the whole evolutionary process, mammals underwent modifications of the appendix at least 29 times, even as many as 41 times. The number of times that it has been lost in evolution is only 12.

This finding has led the researchers to conclude that appendix must be a precious organ that evolution wants us to keep, the Quartz says. The incidence where it threatens to rupture and causes life-threatening complications are too minimal to warrant its complete disappearance. This finding, together with the medical evidences where the appendix function is found to be valuable in sheltering good bacteria proves that the tiny organ has a purpose after all.

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