12 October 2007

Appendix Might Actually be Useful, Say Researchers

But it still can't stand up to the spleen or gall bladder.

From Bio.com:

Drawing upon a series of observations and experiments, Duke University Medical Center investigators postulate that the beneficial bacteria in the appendix that aid digestion can ride out a bout of diarrhea that completely evacuates the intestines and emerge afterwards to repopulate the gut.

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.

As always, the best course of action is prevention: don't get diarrhea in the first place. An erstwhile college friend worked construction one summer, building fast-food restaurants. He never ate fast-food after that and advised me to do the same, although he wouldn't tell me why. But the look of contemplative disgust on his face suggested that I was better off not knowing the specifics.

So try to avoid fast-food, no matter how attractive the value.


Unknown said...

HI WestEnder --

If the appendix is useful, can the tonsil be far behind? Do you suppose they are studying the little toe, too?

Probably all body parts serve a useful purpose. We might not know what they are, but they are probably in place for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Creationists have been harping "God doesn't make mistakes so the appendix must have a use" for years. The Satan-riding-a-triceratops people must be having a field day.

WestEnder said...

The tonsil (& adenoids) are known to have immune cells, so they kind of fit in the same category as the appendix. The theory is that the pharyngeal immune tissue is there to combat bacteria that enters through the mouth & nose.

They might have been more important long ago when early humans ate whatever they could find and had food bits in the mouth all the time.

The ironic thing is that these putative immune tissues get infected and removed so often.

In any case, the puzzle of the male nipple remains unsolved.