Chris Hemsworth has Alzheimer’s genes and is planning a break from appearing

Chris Hemsworth’s Limitless series was meant to push the actor out of his comfort zone, but Hemsworth couldn’t predict how deeply some of the revelations would hit. In the fifth installment of the National Geographic Disney+ series, Hemsworth discovered he has a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s and the revelation prompted the 39-year-old to take a step back from his career. In an interview with Vanity Fair published today, the Thor: Love and Thunder star revealed that he plans to take “some time off” to be with his family and “just simplify.”

Throughout the series, heralded by Disney+ as a mission to “discover how to live better for longer,” Hemsworth goes through a series of challenges and adventures to “push himself to new frontiers and stop the ills of old age before they set in.” push through”. In episode five, he runs a battery of genetic tests that reveal two copies of the APOE4 gene, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, a progressive form of dementia. According to a 2021 study by the National Institutes of Health, 25 percent of people carry one copy of the gene, and only 2 to 3 percent carry two copies, like Hemsworth. “APOE4 is the strongest risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease, although inheritance of APOE4 does not mean that a person will definitely develop the disease,” the study states. On the show, longevity physician Peter Attia, MD, says people with two copies of the APOE4 gene are eight to 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Hemsworth said the news forced him to reckon with his mortality. “Most of us avoid talking about death in hopes that somehow we can avoid it,” he told Vanity Fair. “We all have this belief that we’re going to find out. Then, to suddenly learn that some big indicators are actually pointing to the way that’s going to happen, the reality of it sinking in.”

Hemsworth originally wanted to see his test results on camera, a plan the show scrapped after finding the two genes. The news shocked Hemsworth, who said he didn’t know what to think. “Should I be worried? Is that worrying?” He eventually decided to go public with the news on the show because he believed it could be a “motivator for people to take better care of themselves,” he said.

The revelation also made Hemsworth’s work on the show “even more poignant than I ever imagined,” he said. Hemsworth, the famously fit Thor actor and founder of wellness app Centr, said he’s now even more motivated to focus on his health from a preventive perspective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise and blood pressure management can lower the risk of dementia. And despite his increased risk, Hemsworth noted it’s not a safe bet he’ll get the disease. “It’s not a predetermined gene, but it’s a strong clue,” he told Vanity Fair. Hemsworth’s grandfather also has Alzheimer’s.

Hemsworth’s experience on the show, which also includes an episode specifically about accepting death, also prompted the actor to take a step back from what he described as a 10-year “sprint.” He planned to return to Australia to be with his wife Elsa Pataky and their three children after wrapping up the Limitless press tour. “Doing an episode about death and confronting your own mortality made me say, ‘Oh god, I’m not ready to go yet,'” he explained. “I want to sit and be in this space with a greater sense of stillness and gratitude.”

He’s also approaching his Alzheimer’s revelation from a place of gratitude. “For me, the positive thing about it was, ‘Right, if I didn’t know [Alzheimer’s] information, if I hadn’t made the changes I made, this would have prevented this from happening.”

Hemsworth’s hiatus isn’t retirement, the actor clarified, and he’s looking forward to the hiatus. “[I]It’s just a feeling of satisfaction and that I’m very proud of what I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had,” he said. “I welcome whatever comes next.”

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