Actor Chris Hemsworth learned his risk for developing Alzheimer's. Should you?

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Monday, December 12, 2022 - 10:55am
Updated: Monday, December 12, 2022 - 11:00am

Chris Hemsworth Limitless
Craig Parry/National Geographic for Disney+
Chris Hemsworth in “Limitless with Chris Hemsworth” Episode 5: “Memory.”

Recently, actor Chris Hemsworth revealed in his new documentary "Limitless" that he carries two copies of the gene APOE4, putting him at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. So, what is the impact of learning this genetic information and if everyone should learn their APOE4 status. 

Jessica Langbaum is the director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. 

"I think it's really important to point out that this is just a risk factor. And that you can have one or two copies of APOE-4 and still never develop Alzheimer's disease," she said.

But if you do decide to seek out this information, which you can do using consumer genetic testing like 23andMe, she says there are lots of things to consider.

"There are emotional things that you should think about. There are insurance implications family considerations," she explained.

So, for example, if you have a child, that means they have at least one copy of the APOE4 gene. And emotionally, she says, you have to ask yourself, how will you handle this? 

Learning your APOE4 results right now is not standard medical practice.

"And I think that's different than some other diseases because for right now, we have no treatments that would only be given to you if you happen to have a certain APOE profile," she said. 

Aging Health + Medicine