Is there no end to Chris Hemsworth’s talent?
While it may be politically incorrect, his on-screen idol appearance has fans lining up at the box office before the opening. And then there’s his acting talent, which brought half of Hollywood to Australia. His appeal also helped sell tourism campaigns across the country.
And now the reason for the latest water bubble chat is whether you should know your likelihood of developing specific diseases.
For Hemsworth, it’s Alzheimer’s disease, after he found out — while participating in a Disney+ documentary series Unrestricted – has two copies of the APOE-e4 gene, inherited from both parents.
That doesn’t mean the 39-year-old Hollywood actor will develop Alzheimer’s, but having one copy increases your risk of developing the disease two to three times. Two genes increase this risk; maybe even eight to 12 times.
Of course, some people develop Alzheimer’s disease without any of these genes, and doctors say other factors — genetic and environmental — are at play. The Hemsworth test is also not a diagnosis; just a big red flag.
And that’s the tricky bit. Do you want to know that your risk of developing a particular disease is much higher than the general population? And would it change how you behave tomorrow?
I’m going to admit that I’m a hypocrite here. Already, many women are tested for the BRCA gene and, if positive, choose to have their breasts and ovaries removed because of the increased risk of cancer.
I call that reasonable, and I applaud friends who have made this brave decision on the basis that it has a real chance of extending their lives.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s likely to save their lives. In this case, knowledge can bring a cure.
I really want to know if I have an increased genetic risk of developing a horrible disease where there is no surgery available to surgically remove that risk?
It is a difficult question.
Wine and cheese have already been largely removed from my home due to my husband’s cardiac arrest.
But would we consume less over the years if we knew about the increased risk?
And where is the risk? How many pieces of cheese? How many drinks?
Sunlight causes cancer. We know this and wear sunscreen to prevent this risk.
We don’t stop smoking, and we don’t even put it on the list of New Year’s resolutions every year, because we know the life-threatening warnings that gift-wrap a pack of cigarettes.
We know obesity carries risks. Tanning beds were banned due to causal links to cancer.
And it’s not just cancer. Throughout our lives, we follow rules and regulations to ensure we are safe.
Swimming between the flags. No driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Not speeding. Crossing lights at an intersection. Before jumping, we fear that our parachute might get stuck. Some of us worry every time we get on a plane.
But they are factors we can do something about. Don’t fly. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Stay active. Reduce alcohol consumption.
A genetic test is different, and especially one where knowledge can increase anxiety, not necessarily reduce risk.
I wonder if Chris Hemsworth would have taken this test if it wasn’t part of the documentary?
But he did. And the decision he made is as stellar as any film he has starred in. He is taking time off from acting to be with his partner Elsa Pataky and their three children in Byron Bay and focus on his healthy lifestyle including sleep, stress management, nutrition and exercise.
Not all of us could afford it.
So would I get a genetic test for something like Alzheimer’s?
I’m not sure I’m as brave as Thor.