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Martial arts

Jet Li fans share their personal battles with hyperthyroidism, as martial arts icon’s health problems continue to shock

While news of the wushu legend’s illness and injuries spread across the world, some South China Morning Post readers have detailed their own experiences of the debilitating condition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 9:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 9:38am

Fans of ailing martial arts superstar Jet Li Lianjie have been sharing their own personal battles with hyperthyroidism, the illness the 55-year-old actor is suffering from, as news of his frail appearance continues to make shock waves.

Li, the Hollywood icon who starred in Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die, Kiss of the Dragon and more recently Expendables 2, is suffering from hyperthyroidism as well as spinal problems.

A recent photograph of the action star visiting a temple in Tibet has been widely circulated with many people taken aback by Li’s seemingly-poor health.

Li has said that his resting heart rate can go up to 130 beats per minute because of his illness, and that he cannot do any rigorous exercise.

And while Chinese netizens prayed for his health on Saturday, news of his condition has spread across the English-speaking world with fans across Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the US expressing disbelief that they were seeing the same Beijing-born actor, who has appeared in dozens of action movies spanning four decades. Many hoped for Li to make a quick and complete recovery.

Is this the same Jet Li we all know? Martial arts legend battles illness and injuries as fans express shock

Li’s story has received more than 20,000 shares on the South China Morning Post website with fans calling the former wushu champion their “hero”.

Others mentioned their favourite Jet Li films, while some fans posted their own personal battles with the condition in the comments section as they tried to help raise awareness of hyperthyroidism.

“We pray for your fast recovery, idol. We’re so sad about what happened to you. Keep fighting and believing that God will heal you. We will pray for your good health,” said Elena Gastalla.

“Get well soon,” said Keith E Tomerlin. “You are our favourite actor. We loved you in Romeo Must Die, The Forbidden Kingdom and Cradle 2 The Grave.”

The actor and producer said he had been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid in 2010 and although he took medication that kept his illness in check, the condition kept coming back.

Hyperthyroidism causes changes in a person’s metabolism and heart rate, and is usually treated through medication.

Li says his strong belief in Buddhism as well as meditation and scripture reading help stabilise his condition.

One reader, Fanny Chan, told the Post that diet was key to overcoming an illness which in the US alone affects around 1.6 per cent of the population.

“I took medicine for almost two years and everything appeared normal and I thought I was on the road to recovery. However, it came back again. I had to calm myself down and not worry too much about it,” she said.

“My doctor said I needed to take iodine radioactive [treatment] to cure the illness but I didn’t take it and I just tried to avoid a high iodine diet. I am now completely cured.”

Another reader, Linda Begue, said she hoped there would be a cure for Li, adding: “I had hyperthyroidism in 1983. Then again after a few years. My doctor then in San Francisco said it’s caused by anxiety, which is right on the nose. That time I was very worried about my children.”

A reader from Indonesia offered a cure for Li, saying he had a “miracle medicine” using herbal remedies and offered free treatment for the action star.

Other Post readers wished for Li’s “speedy recovery”.

“One of my favourite actors. May God bless you and have mercy on your illness,” said one reader.