Brain Health and Wellness
Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth, famous for playing Thor, the god of thunder in all marvel cinematic adaptations. Has recently come out in his disney+ Series Limitless, that he is susceptible to Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. The disease can cause memory issues, confusion and communications problems. In the series, we see Chris test his body, and look to explore ways people can live longer and healthier lives (McIntosh, S. 2022). Many news reports covering this topic are focusing on the break that Chris Hemsworth will be taking from acting. With this article, we hope to shed light on the gene that he has that makes him susceptible to Alzheimers.
Chris Hemsworth has 2 copies of the ApoE4 gene. One from his mother and one from his father. This makes him around 8 to 10 times more likely to develop a form of dementia over people without the gene (Heching, D. 2022). In total, around 2-3 percent of the entire population carries 2 copies of the gene (McIntosh, S. 2022). Stated by Chris, “The tests confirmed his biggest fear" and will now be taking preventative measures to help mitigate his risk. This is part of the reason he will be taking a break from acting, though made sure that everyone knows, he is not handing in his resignation. Chris explained that “He had not been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but had been warned of the heightened risk he has of getting it later in life”. It's not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication" (McIntosh, S. 2022).
In terms of the gene that Chris has, the APOE gene helps our body create a protein called apolipoprotein. This is a protein that helps us carry fat and cholesterol throughout our body (Whitten, C. 2021). This protein combines with the fats in our body to make molecules that are called lipoproteins, which are responsible for packing our cholesterol and other fats through our bloodstream. There are known to be 3 different versions of the APOE gene, called e2, e3 and e4. The most common of the genes is e3, which can be found in more than half of the world's population. The e4 variation of the APOE gene can increase a person's risk of developing late-onset dementia. Someone who inherits one copy of the gene, has an increased risk in developing the disease, while people who inherit 2 copies, are at an even greater risk. Chris Hemsworth has 2 copies of this gene, which is the reason for him being more susceptible to Alzheimer’s later in life (Whitten, C. 2021). The e4 gene is more common with late-onset forms of the condition, which generally only occur in people older than 65, though the gene can still be associated with early onset memory loss and other symptoms related to cognitive decline.
Even in 2022, It is still not precisely known how the E4 gene is related to the risk of Alzhiemers, though researchers have found that the gene is associated with an increase in protein clumps, called amyloid plaques in the brain tissue of an affected person (Whitten, C. 2021). Amyloid plaques can build up overtime, which can lead to death of one's nerve cells, and the progressive symptoms of dementia. Something key that is important to note, is that people with the APOE e4 gene, have an increased risk to develop Alzheimer's disease. Not all people with Alzheimers have the APOE gene, and you are not 100% guaranteed to develop alzheimers if you have the gene (U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2021).
A question that is still unanswered and not being covered in most articles, is “what does this entail for Chris’s 2 other brothers? As all 3 of them share the same mother and father, are they just as likely as Chris Hemsworth to have both copies of the gene? Hopefully more answers will be revealed, as more information is given out.
During a hard time, Chris emphasized the importance of not manipulation or overdramatizing what he has learned, though that there are preventative steps and measures that can be taken to help against Alzheimers. Chris’s grandfather has alzheimers, and with him finding out about his increased chances of having the disease, really made him reflect upon his life and own morality. Chris stated “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” (Zhan, J. 2022).
The Boomerang Life team wishes the Hemsworth family the best of luck, and best wishes towards a return.
Heching, D. (2022). Chris Hemsworth receives 'strong indication' of a genetic predisposition to alzheimer's disease while filming New show. CTVNews. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/chris-hemsworth-receives-strong-indication-of-a-genetic-predisposition-to-alzheimer-s-disease-while-filming-new-show-1.6161873
McIntosh, S. (2022). Chris Hemsworth: Alzheimer's risk prompts actor to take acting break. BBC News. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-63668310
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). APOE gene: Medlineplus genetics. MedlinePlus. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/apoe/
Whitten, C. (2021). APOB test: Purpose and results. WebMD. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/what-is-apolipoprotein-b-test
Zhan, J. (2022, November 19). Chris Hemsworth discovered he's at higher risk of alzheimer's disease. Vulture. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.vulture.com/2022/11/chris-hemsworth-break-from-acting-risk-of-alzheimers-limitless-health.html