Chris Hemsworth’s new show with National Geographic on Disney+ is “a mission to live better longer”. But because of this show, he found himself facing his “greatest fear” – that he could develop Alzheimer’s disease.
During an episode of the show, the 39-year-old Actor “Thor” underwent genetic testing to learn more about his current and future health. It turns out that Hemsworth has a rare genetic makeup with two copies of the APO4 gene, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“ApoE4 is the most potent risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease,” according to a 2021 study by the National Institutes of Health, “although inheriting ApoE4 does not mean a person will permanently develop disease”.
While about 25% of the population has one copy of the gene, only 2-3% have two, according to this research.
“The idea that I won’t be able to remember the life that I lived or my wife, my kids, that’s probably my biggest fear,” Hemsworth said in the show’s fifth episode.
During filming, the show’s longevity doctor, Peter Attia, first spoke to Hemsworth about the discovery off-camera, Hemsworth told Vanity Fair. This conversation, Hemsworth said, “was quite shocking.”
“It was a pretty brief conversation, all things considered. I hung up and my parents were there at the time,” he told Vanity Fair. “…I told them, and then they had a bunch of questions. I had a bunch of questions, but no one answered them. I wish I had a more intense follow-up because I didn’t have really know what to think. I was like, ‘Am I supposed to be worried? Is this worrying?'”
Attia told Hemsworth in the episode that he was about 8-10 times more likely than the general population to develop Alzheimer’s disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is also associated with early onset, which can occur anytime between your 30s and your mid-60s.
“There was an intensity to navigating it. Most of us, we like to avoid talking about death in hopes of avoiding it somehow. We all have this belief that we let’s find out,” Hemsworth told Vanity Fair. . “Then all of a sudden you’re told that some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the road is going to happen, the reality of it sinks. Your own mortality.
It is also a disease with which his family has significant experience. Hemsworth’s grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease.
“He doesn’t remember who we are, you know his grandkids, but also his own kids that he forgets. It’s heartbreaking,” he says on the show.
He also told Vanity Fair that there are days when his grandfather is “pretty cheerful and gives you a big hug.”
“I’m not sure he remembers much more and he goes in and out of Dutch, which is his original language, so he’ll speak Dutch and English and then a mix and maybe some others as well. new words. ,” he said.
Despite her genetic make-up and family background, Attia told Hemsworth, “I believe that if we take all possible steps, we can reduce your risk to anyone else’s.”
The discovery spurred Hemsworth to action. According to the National Institute of Aging, physical activity, blood pressure control and cognitive training – activities that help improve memory, reasoning and processing speed – may help prevent the onset of the disease, although these results are not conclusive.
“It’s not like I received my resignation,” he told Vanity Fair.
“When you have prepositions for cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, whatever, it’s all about sleep management, stress management, nutrition, movement, fitness. They’re sort of the same tools that must be applied consistently,” he said.
But at the end of the day, Hemsworth told Vanity Fair what matters most is getting the most out of life for as long as possible.
“Whether or not this information helps you live longer, it’s about living better now,” he said. “Everything you do right now to benefit your future self has a huge benefit over your current self. … Live with the greatest sense of gratitude and love for life that you can.”
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