Published: Tuesday 22 May, 2018

The Truth About ‘Unrecognizable’ Jet Li Photo: His Illness & His Health

Believe it or not, this is Jet Li now, the renowned Chinese martial arts actor. This photo of Jet Li has gone viral with fans alarmed at his ‘condition’. Many have offered prayers for his health. Others are worried that he is ‘dying’.

Jet Li unrecognizable

Jet Li with an assistant in the viral photo. (The Straits Times/Twitter)

Yes, Jet Li is unrecognizable in the photo. At  55 years old, he looks much older. It seems health problems have taken a toll on his once youthful looks that we remember. It’s hard to imagine that the man in the photo was the guy who wowed us with his martial arts and acrobatic moves in such films as The Expendables, Lethal Weapon 4 and Hero, among others.

According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP), the viral photo of Jet Li was taken recently at a temple in Tibet and, it seems, he was being assisted while he walked.

How bad is Jet Li’s health? Is he ‘dying’?

Jet Li has Hyperthyroidsm

In 2013, Jet Li revealed that he has hyperthyrodism (overactive thyroid). According to Mayo Clinic, hyperthyroidism accelerates the body’s “metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability”.

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Speaking at a charity dinner in Beijing, Jet Li said he had been battling the disease since 2010 and had been taking medication to control it. However, Li said that the disease kept coming back stronger. But the the martial arts icon added that his strong belief in Buddhism, coupled with regular meditation and scripture reading, help stabilize his condition.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases sheds more light into hyperthyroidism: “The thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems with the heart, bones, muscles, menstrual cycle, and fertility.”

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Due to his condition, Li said in 2013, he had to stop doing martial arts films and any other physically strenuous activities upon the advise of his doctors. Added Jet Li, his doctors warned him that if he did not stop, he would end up in a wheelchair.

The Truth About Viral Jet Li Photo

But is Jet Li’s condition now as bad as what the viral photo shows? Some fans cannot accept that that is how Li looks like today, and suggested that bad lighting and an even worse angle may have been to blame.

The Washington Post talked to Li’s manager, Steven Chasman, who shed light on the issue.

“He has hyperthyroidism that he’s been dealing with for almost 10 years. It’s nothing life-threatening and he’s dealing with it,” Chasman said as quoted by the Washington Post. He added that it was just a bad photo of Li.

Chasman added that the photo is ‘sensationalism’ and gave the Washington Post a recent picture of Jet Li reportedly taken just last week.

Jet Li photo hyperthyroidism

A photo of Jet Li taken last week. (Steven Chasman via the Washington Post)

Here’s a video of Li posted on his Instagram last December.