Jet Li's Thyroid Illness: Explaining His Disease & Health

Amid the concerns of Jet Li’s declining health, his manager spoke up- saying that the 55-year-old is in perfectly good health.

Li learned wushu since he was a small boy. He started competing against adults when he was 12, and he even won a national champion title. Jet Li’s name became known after he portrayed the legendary folk hero Wong Fei-hung in the Once Upon a Time in China series. Even though all of Li’s moves were choreographed, the fluidity in his movements proves that his athleticism is real. The star took on many roles in Chinese action films like The Shaolin Temple series, Fist of Legend, and most famously, High Risk in 1995. He made his debut in Hollywood in 1998 when he took on the role of Wah Sing Ku in Lethal Weapon 4. His career then expanded as he branched out to more American and European productions, such as Romeo Must Die (2000),  and Kiss of the Dragon (2001). His fame and status in Hollywood don’t mean that he forgot where he came from. Jet Li continued to work with Chinese directors, such as Zhang Yimou in Hero (2002). He also played Yin Yang in The Expendables trilogy starting from 2010. Just four years ago, fans still see Jet Li took electrifying actions while The Expendables 3 hit the theaters.


In 2010, Li revealed that he was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid. Only one out of every 100 US citizens get this disorder. Abundant thyroid hormones will determine how the body disperses its energy. This can impact almost every organ to the point where Li said his resting heart rate can go up to 130 beats per minute because of his thyroid illness. His disease also affects his metabolism. However, rigorous exercise is not advised because of the medicine Li has to take. Back in 2013, Li mentioned that his doctor said he would end up in a wheelchair if he continued making physically-demanding action films. He mentioned that his symptoms keep coming back even though he took his medicine diligently. But, the actor made sure to state that he isn't suffering.

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In 2013, the public was told of Li’s physical injuries that accumulated from his decades-long career in action movies. At 18, Li suffered his first major injury that required seven-and-a-half hours of surgery: he tore a muscle in his knee. He also had a serious back injury at the age of 23 that impacts his ability to stand straight for extended periods of time.

Speculations about Li’s health started to rise in 2016. The Strait Time reached out to him, and Li told the Singapore press over the phone from Beijing that "There is nothing to worry about my health”. "I'm not sure which wheelchair company is putting out such news to sell more wheelchairs. Perhaps someone wants me to be a spokesman for their wheelchairs," the then-53-year-old actor added.



Because of his health condition, Jet Li retreated from the acting industry and focused more on charitable works. He also turned to Buddhism. After learning more about the philosophical side of this religion, the actor mentioned to The Strait Time: "I feel what is important is the mindset," Li credited his Buddhist beliefs, saying that they helped him pull through a lot of hard times.

Recently, a photograph of Jet Li visiting a temple in Tibet was circulated. Many fans have been shocked with how different the actor looked. Just earlier in 2018, Jet Li sent out a message wishing Happy New Year to his fans where he looked great. Yet, a few months later, he looks aged and frail. This caused speculations about Li's battle against his illness to return.

Source: ABS-CBN News

On Monday, Li’s manager – Steven Chasman took to the press to calm the worried fans. “It’s nothing life-threatening and he’s dealing with it,” Chasman told The Washington Post. Chasman also mentioned that Li looks worse in the photo because of the bad lighting and the wrong camera angle. Li’s manager added that he has spoken with Li’s assistant and it’s safe to state that the actor is “all well and would be nice if people wouldn’t make something out of nothing,” Chasman said. He also brought a photo of Li which was taken on May 12, 2018, in Chengdu, in which Li looks perfectly healthy and happy.

Courtesy of Steven Chasman

Fans hope that Jet Li is well, and they all hope to see him back on the silver screen. If things go well, Jet Li will make his return as the emperor of China in the 2020 live-action remake of Disney’s classic: Mulan.


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