The ticking time bomb inside your body...or is it?

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Just tonight I was talking to roommate about the worst thing that happened to us that required medical attention and he mentioned that he had to get his appendix removed when he was 13. Now for all of my life, right up until I started researching the topic to write this blog, I had assumed that the appendix served no purpose in the human body. This was mainly because that is all I had ever heard about the appendix, that and people having to get it removed because it was about to explode and kill them. But when I read this article I was surprised but what I found.



For years, everybody believed the conclusion that Darwin came to about the appendix, which was that it was just a left over from a larger organ that was phased out by evolution. But according to the article, Duke researchers have discovered that the appendix does play an important role in the human body. According to their finding, the appendix is a "safe haven where good bacteria could hang out until they were needed to repopulate the gut", but they do recognize that appendix does not play as a large of role as it might have used to due to better living conditions and food, and that is why people can have their appendix removed and suffering no negative effects of living without it; making it seem like the appendix serves no purpose, when in reality, our improvements in quality of life is the reason for that.


William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgical sciences at Duke and the senior author of the study, also mentions that now that we have a better understanding of the appendix and its function, we may be able to find a way to get rid of appendicitis and keep it from rupturing.

"He thinks the answer may lie in devising ways to challenge our immune systems today in much the same manner that they were challenged back in the Stone Age. "If modern medicine could figure out a way to do that, we would see far fewer cases of allergies, autoimmune disease, and appendicitis" (Duke University Medical Center, 2009).

It's an interesting thought, are the advancements in food quality made our immune systems too soft? Is there a safe, ethical way to actually challenge our immune systems like Dr. Parker suggests? Could his proposition actually work in lowering the amount of allergies and disease? All I know is, until now I thought my appendix was nothing but something that took up space in my body, but now I know that is clearly not true.

1 Comment

All I have ever heard about appendicitis and the appendix are horror stories. Nothing positive has really come to my attention. I had my buddies rupture during an ice hockey game in high school and he almost lost his life. Is there prevention for this?

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