May 23, 2024 - Health

The appendix gets a glow up

Illustration of a medical red cross under spotlights on a stage.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As it turns out, the long-overlooked appendix may do some pretty important jobs keeping us healthy.

The big picture: A new analysis from Epic Research indicates the appendix may help individuals fight off a common and potentially deadly gastrointestinal infection.

  • Other recent studies have found links between the appendix and the immunological functions of the human colon or improved gut health following an infection.
  • These and other recent findings have researchers looking at ways to treat appendicitis without completely removing the organ, Heather Smith, a professor of anatomy at Midwestern University, recently told NPR.

The latest: Epic researchers examined data from over 57,000 patients who had their appendix removed between 2010 and 2021.

  • Their risk of infection from Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff, more than doubled.
  • The correlation was slightly stronger in males, the study found.

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