HOLLYWOOD star Chris Hemsworth has revealed he's at a high risk of developing Alzheimer's.
The 39-year-old discovered that he carries two copies of the gene APOE4.
It's a gene that has previously been linked to the debilitating illness, with just one in four people carrying it.
The cause of Alzheimer's is not fully understood, the NHS says.
A study published in the National Institute of Aging previously suggested that the APOE protein helps carry cholesterol and other types of fat in the bloodstream.
This could impair the cells' essential processes, experts said.
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The Thor actor found out about the link when filming for docuseries 'Limitless', which will be aired on Disney+.
He said he had received the news whilst he was with his parents, and now wishes he had asked more questions, he told Vanity Fair.
"Most of us, we like to avoid speaking about death,’ he said.
"Then to all of a sudden be told some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the route which is going to happen, the reality of it sinks in. Your own mortality," he said.
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It's important to note, that this isn't a diagnosis – nor does it mean he will definitely develop the illness.
In a clip from the Disney show, he also revealed that his grandfather had the illness, and confessed he worries about not being able to remember his wife or kids.
While it's still not known what causes it, the NHS says there are some things that can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's.
- getting older
- a family history of the illness
- untreated depression
- lifestyle factors
- conditions associated with cardiovascular disease such as diabetes or high cholestrol.
Studies have also shown that changes to your humour could mean you're at risk.
Researchers at University College London revealed people with the disease are more likely to enjoy slapstick over more complicated forms of comedy.
They gathered friends and family of 48 people with the disease and asked them questions about their loved ones' sense of humour.
In the study they were asked whether their relatives enjoyed shows like Mr Bean, or more satirical shows like South Park.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s you need to know
The NHS says that the first sign of Alzheimer’s is usually minor memory problems.
Official guidance states you might also experience the following:
- confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
- difficulty planning or making decisions
- problems with speech and language
- problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
- personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) and delusions (believing things that are untrue)
- low mood or anxiety
Then they were asked if there was a difference between their humour 15 years ago.
Having no filter might also be another sign that the condition has developed.
As someone develops Alzheimer's their ability to filter what to say becomes hazy.
That’s because the part of the brain that controls our internal filter, the frontal prefrontal cortex, is known to shrink with age, according to experts.
This means patients can say or do outlandishly inappropriate things without realising it is wrong.
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The Alzheimer’s society explained: “These situations can be very confusing, distressing, shocking or frustrating for someone with dementia, as well as for those close to them.
“The person with dementia may not understand why their behaviour is considered inappropriate. It’s very unlikely that they are being inappropriate on purpose.”
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