Chris Hemsworth went public with the discovery that he is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease so he could encourage others to take care of themselves.
In an episode of “Limitless,” his National Geographic docuseries about resisting the effects of time and aging, Hemsworth submitted to a series of genetic tests. They revealed that he belongs to the 2-3% of the population that carries two copies of the gene APOE4, which has been associated with a heightened risk of the disease.
The “Thor: Love and Thunder” star told Vanity Fair that he was supposed to receive the test results live and on-camera, but the weight of the information changed that.
“Peter Attia, who is the longevity doctor in that episode [‘Memory’], and overseeing a lot of the show, called [show creator] Darren [Aronofsky] and said, ‘I don’t want to tell him this on camera. We need to have an off-side conversation and see if he even wants this to be in the show,'” Hemsworth recalled. “It was pretty shocking because he called me up and he told me.”
Hemsworth said he “didn’t know what to think” when he heard the news: “I was like, ‘Am I supposed to be worried? Is this concerning?'”
Although he admitted that there was an “intensity to navigating it,” the 39-year-old said he’s ultimately thankful to know what he knows now.
“For me, the positive of it was like, ‘Right, if I didn’t know this [Alzheimer’s] information, I wouldn’t have made the changes I made.”
“If you look at Alzheimer’s prevention, the benefit of preventative steps is that it affects the rest of your life,” he continued. “When you have preposition to cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, anything—it’s all about sleep management, stress management, nutrition, movement, fitness. It’s all kind of the same tools that need to be applied in a consistent way.”
That was also Hemsworth’s motivation for including the information in the show’s fifth episode, titled “Memory.” He was offered a version of the episode “where we didn’t talk about it” and decided to turn it down.
“… I thought, ‘No, look, if this is a motivator for people to take better care of themselves and also understand that there are steps you can take—then fantastic,'” Hemsworth explained. “My concern was I just didn’t want to manipulate it and overdramatize it, and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy or whatever for entertainment.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.”
All episodes of “Limitless” are now available on Disney+.