Sunday, October 14, 2007

Role for the Appendix? There working for you if you need it. And if you needed it more often it just might not go bad on you.

Courtesy of

Remember the little mysterious appendix at the juncture of the large and small intestine?

Ever since I was told that the appendix was a vestigial organ that basically could cause trouble and if a surgeon were inside a patient already, the surgeon should just clip the little sucker out, I've had a sneaky feeling that it wouldn't be there if it didn't have a role to play of some kind. (Ditto tonsils!)

And by the way just why does the appendix go bad on occasion if it's just down there being "vestigial", it's lost the ability to do anything and is nothing but a little extra tissue that just sits there ? Why would it have any reason to go bad?

Therefore when the research done down at Duke Medical School about a possible dual role for the appendix hit the news, I started scanning the articles. (Unfortunately the original research was on the net and one had to pay to see it, therefore people without a lump of spare cash to spend on appendix research, were at the mercy of reporters of the story. )

And some of those reporters, and even more so the headline writers should have been paying a little more attention in science class if that is what they really got from their interviews and reading the research or if they do know better and have made it seem utterly conclusive on purpose, should be thumped for yellow journalism.

Then of course there was the abc blurb that was so concerned that people weren't very bright and that when they heard that appendices might have certain functions, that they'd refuse to have a mortally inflamed one removed, that they used half the word space saying that the appendix was unnecessary. Untrue. It might be unnecessary for hordes of people in an over hyginated society but then again someday if you happened to pick up amoebic dysentery or cholera somewhere without lots of people around it might just come in very handy.

And then there are the folks that say your appendix is vitally important;

It goes both ways.

"Might" and "may" are extremely important words when taking about what we know when it comes to science.

Below, very interesting stuff, about possible appendix functions (and journalistic incompetence) can be gleaned with a quick (or not) scan of the following good, bad, and indifferent articles.

HAVE FUN! It's all about Gut Flora!

Exploring The Appendix
Harvard Courant,0,1361752.story

Your Appendix Has a Reason After All

That appendix might be useful to you after all

The Appendix Protects Us From Germs And Protects Good Bacteria

Study: appendix provides good bacteria, still not necessary

Appendix: It’s not useless after all

What Doctors Don't Tell You, UK - Oct 11, 2007
It’s suddenly occurred to medicine that that “useless” appendage, the appendix, is nothing of the sort, and in fact plays a vital role in maintaining good gut bacteria ...

What does the appendix do? Finally an answer!
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center say that the function of the frequently discarded appendix, an organ often credited with little importance and often dismissed as having no significant function, does it seems have a role to play after all.

Donegal Browne

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