Chris Hemsworth may be Thor to us, but the 39-year-old actor discovered on his new Disney+ docuseries Limitless that he carries a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease. In an episode, the star found out that his DNA contains two copies of the APOE4 gene, making his chance of developing the progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die eight to 10 times higher than the average person’s. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function independently.
Hemsworth told Vanity Fair that the information made him want to take more time off from the entertainment industry to be more present with his family. Hemsworth and his wife, Elsa Pataky, 46, share three children: 10-year-old India and 8-year-old twins Sasha and Tristan. “It really triggered something in me to want to take some time off,” he said, adding that he’s still in the midst of fulfilling work obligations he’s contracted to do. “Now when I finish this tour this week, I’m going home and I’m going to have a good chunk of time off and just simplify. Be with the kids, be with my wife.”
Limitless follows the Australian actor’s journey to team up with the world’s leading longevity experts taking on “six of the toughest tests” of his life in order to unlock how we can all live a “healthier, longer life.” The docuseries is directed by Mother! and The Whale‘s Darren Aronofsky.
Approximately 5.8 million people in the United States age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease. Of those, 80% are 75 years old and older. Early signs of the disease include forgetting recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out everyday tasks. Medications may temporarily improve or slow the progression of symptoms, but there is currently no cure for the disease.