Research has shown that the appendix isn’t useless. It may not be needed to live a long healthy life, but it does have a function and may even help improve longevity.
Is the Appendix Useless?
While this good bacteria-protecting and storing organ may not be fully needed, research from 2007 and beyond strongly hints that it isn’t a useless organ and in fact may be associated with a longer lifespan.
Why The Appendix isn’t Useless
A study from 2007 published by Duke University Medical Center concluded that “Long denigrated as vestigial or useless, the appendix now appears to have a reason to be – as a “safe house” for the beneficial bacteria living in the human gut.”
The logic was this, “While its exact function [of the appendix] in humans has been debated by physicians, it is known that there is immune system tissue in the appendix. The gut is populated with different microbes that help the digestive system break down the foods we eat. In return, the gut provides nourishment and safety to the bacteria. Parker now believes that the immune system cells found in the appendix are there to protect, rather than harm, the good bacteria.”
This conclusion was then backed up by more recent studies, for example, research published in 2017 by Heather F. Smith, Ph.D., associate professor at Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, which looked at genetic trees of 533 mammals and showed that once the appendix appeared it almost never disappeared in the species. Her conclusion from this was that it has an “adaptive purpose.”
Lastly, recent research from 2021, titled “The cecal appendix is correlated with greater maximal longevity in mammals,” indicates that having an appendix correlates with longer lifespans.Your Appendix Isn’t Useless, After All.
- Your Appendix May Not Be Useless After All. Time.com.
- Appendix Isn’t Useless At All: It’s A Safe House For Good Bacteria. Sciencedaily.com.
- Morphological evolution of the mammalian cecum and cecal appendix. Sciencedirect.com.