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Tonsillectomy Associated with an Increased Risk of Autoimmune Diseases

Tonsillectomy Associated with an Increased Risk of Autoimmune Diseases

Are you as healthy as your parents?  Generally, I find that with each younger generation their health is overall worse than their parents.  This is one due to one single factor but to a variety.

For my generation, baby boomer, it was routine for everyone to have their tonsils removed under the false assumption that they served no purpose.  Based on a Swedish study (see below), this would partly explain why autoimmune diseases are more prevalent than in our parents.


Recent studies suggest that tonsils play an important role in our immune system.  A study in Sweden hypothesized that individuals who had a tonsillectomy may face an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases in their later life.

All individuals that had a tonsillectomy in Sweden between 1997 and 2012 were followed until the diagnosis of a set of autoimmune diseases.  Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were used to calculate the risk of autoimmune diseases as compared to the general population.

A total of 179,875 individuals received a tonsillectomy in Sweden and 5357 of them were subsequently diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, giving an overall SIR of 1.34.  For specific autoimmune diseases, 16 of them showed a significantly increased SIR, ranging between 1.21 and 2.97.  The increased incidence was largely consistent irrespective of gender, age at operation, and underlying indications of tonsillectomy.

The study concluded that the incidence of a group of autoimmune diseases was higher in individuals who had a tonsillectomy.

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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