The thymus is an inconspicuous organ in the human body, sometimes considered so useless that it may be removed in adults. But Harvard scientists believe that this gland is not useless!
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In adults, the role of the thymus is not very clear, even as this gland, located near the lungs, is often stimulated during surgery. But according to Harvard scientists, the thymus is not so useless in adults. In fact, people who have had a thymectomy will have a higher risk of developing cancer.
Thymus, a really useless organ for adults?
The thymus is a primary lymphoid organ, that is, it is involved in our immunity. In essence, it is the organ that produces mature T lymphocytes ready to attack any foreign substance to the human body. The thymus experiences its peak activity during childhood and adolescence; In adulthood, the gland shrinks and lymphocytes give way to fat cells.
Despite everything, Harvard scientists believe that it is not useless. They selected 1,146 volunteers who had undergone thymectomy and compared their health development over five years with those who had kept their thymus. According to their analysis, mortality from any cause, and especially from cancer, was higher in volunteers with thymus than in volunteers without thymus. Indeed, the risk of cancer in the “thymectomy” group was 7.4% versus 3.7% in the control group.
The biological reasons behind these observations are still unknown. Removing the thymus can damage the immune system of healthy adults. Scientists measured the production of lymphocytes and cytokines in about twenty volunteers, with or without a thymus, and found that those who had thymectomy produced fewer new T lymphocytes and had higher concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines in their blood. was more
Although the thymus degenerates in adulthood, this tiny gland is still important to our health.
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