Actor Chris Hemsworth Learns of His Genetic Alzheimer's Risk

Marvel star Chris Hemsworth has a gene that puts him at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. In episode five of his now streaming Disney+ show "Limitless," he learns he has two copies of a gene that increases his risk for memory loss.

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Actor Chris Hemsworth Learns of His Genetic Alzheimer's Risk
3 Min Read November 19th, 2022

Actor Chris Hemsworth, known for playing Marvel comic book hero "Thor" in the film series of the same name, and for his starring roles in 'Snow White and the Huntsman' and 'Rush,' is now facing a life crisis due to a genetic test.

In Hemsworth's current National Geographic docuseries "Limitless," streaming on Disney+, he participates in challenges while guided by experts in the fields explored in each episode. The six-part documentary series focuses on combating aging.

However, Hemsworth was unprepared for the news he received from one of the episodes. In the fifth episode of the series, genetic testing revealed he has a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's. A doctor explained that he has two copies of a gene, ApoE4, inherited from both his parents.

Predisposed for Alzheimer’s

Experts say that Hemsworth is eight to ten times more likely to develop the disease. He told Vanity Fair that his grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

The gene ApoE4 is present in approximately 50% of people with Alzheimer's, says Li-Huei Tsai, Ph.D., Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT.

Mounting evidence shows that ApoE4 disrupts how different brain cells process lipids including cholesterol and that this underlying biology may contribute significantly to the pathology of Alzheimer's disease.

In a sit-down interview on NBC's Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, Hemsworth said, "It was a real shock." learning about being at risk for the disease.

They did a deep dive into my blood work and my genetics … and found some indications that put me in a very high category, a risk category, for Alzheimer's.

 For more than 25 years, ApoE4 has been linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease. ApoE has also been linked to the formation of amyloid-β deposits in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. 


Over Six Million People Have Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's is an illness of the brain that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Over six million people have Alzheimer's, and it has no cure or effective treatment. This illness progresses gradually and is one of the leading causes of long-term health care.

An additional problem for families with a loved one with Alzheimer's is that the required care is not paid for by health insurance and Medicare. Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for this care, but this type of insurance must be obtained when someone is still relatively healthy. LTC Insurance is medically underwritten and usually purchased when someone is in their 50s. 

Medicaid will also pay for long-term care services, including memory care for Alzheimer's and other dementia, but the individual must have little or no income and assets to qualify. As a result, adult children often become caregivers. Often called the 'sandwich generation,' these family caregivers face juggling their careers with caring for an older parent and their children simultaneously. 

Hemsworth, meanwhile, plans to pause his work after wrapping up his press tour for the documentary series. Limitless is now streaming on Disnsey+.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Genetics may play a part in dementia, but it is not limited to genetics. Aging is a reality that, unless prepared, can burden your family and finances. 

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Long-term care services are costly, and those costs are increasing rapidly. Cost does vary depending on where you live, but even in-home care can create a financial burden.

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The problem is more than money; it is about family and the consequences long-term health care has on those you love. It is often for the family that people get Long-Term Care Insurance and add it to their retirement plan.

There are a variety of available plans offered by top-rated insurance companies - Types Of Long-Term Care Insurance Policies & Which Is Best For You.

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Be sure to obtain coverage when you are younger and healthier to enjoy more options and lower premiums. 

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Today's reverse mortgages, available to individuals 62 and over, maybe the perfect way to pay for a long-term care insurance policy or even cover the cost of care if you or a loved one is currently in need. You might also be qualified when you're younger.

Some people invest a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for caregiving services, care, and even assistance with cash flow during retirement.

Asking an expert questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages.

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