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Chris Hemsworth talks life changes after discovering Alzheimer's predisposition

The 'Thor' actor says he isn't retiring, but wants to spend more time with his family and take preventative steps.
Credit: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
Actor Chris Hemsworth attends the premiere of National Geographic's original series "Limitless with Chris Hemsworth" at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Chris Hemsworth plans to take "a good chunk of time off" after finding out he's genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's disease. 

The 39-year-old Marvel star found in a recent episode of his Disney+ health documentary series "Limitless" that he has two copies of the APOE4 gene, which studies have linked to an increased risk for the disease. 

"We did a deep dive into my bloodwork and genetics and found some indications that put me in a very risk high category for Alzheimer's, and it was a real shock— the first instance I found that out," Hemsworth said in a preview clip for the TODAY Show's "Sunday Today."

Show host Willie Geist said once Hemsworth finishes his current projects and contractual obligations, the actor plans to take some time off to spend time with his family.

Hemsworth made similar comments in a Vanity Fair interview published Thursday. He emphasized that he is not retiring and has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but said working on "Limitless" made him think about his own mortality. 

"It really triggered something in me to want to take some time off," he told the magazine. "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."

Hemsworth said the discovery means he can start making changes and taking preventative steps in his lifestyle — and motivate others to do the same. 

"I was offered a version of the episode where we didn't talk about it," he told Vanity Fair. "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.'"

The National Institutes of Health estimates that about 25% of people have one copy of the APOE4 gene, while only 2% to 3% have two. Having the gene doesn't guarantee a future Alzheimer's diagnosis, but the agency says this is the "strongest risk factor gene" for the disease.

While there are no definitive steps to prevent onset of the disease, the Alzheimer's Association says lifestyle changes like regular activity, heart-healthy habits and social connections could help reduce risk. 

"Limitless," which premiered Wednesday, is a six-part National Geographic series explores scientific research on the human body with a focus on longevity. 

Hemsworth didn't say how long of a break he intends to take. His other current projects include "Mad Max" prequel "Furiosa" and Netflix's "Extraction 2;" Deadline says production has wrapped on both projects.

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