Saturday, October 06, 2007

Appendix - of Course it has a Function


Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut.

For generations the appendix has been dismissed as superfluous. Doctors figured it had no function. Surgeons removed them routinely. People live fine without them.

The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system, according to the study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. There are more bacteria than human cells in the typical body. Most of it is good and helps digest food.

The appendix “acts as a good safe house for bacteria,” said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a study co-author. The location of the appendix — just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine in a sort of gut cul-de-sac — helps support the theory, he said.

Also, the worm-shaped organ outgrowth acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs, Parker said.

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