Gene info has little effect
The age of personal gene sequencing is upon us, though many people are unwilling to decode their DNA.
But a new British research project has found knowing their genetic risk for developing heart disease, cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease, has little or no impact on people's behaviour.
Despite the fact that a person could reduce their risk of negative impacts, the review found that having information from DNA-based risk estimates had no effect on people's diet, smoking habits, or physical activity levels.
The article in the BMJ reviewed the results of 18 studies on the effects of communicating genetic risk estimates.
They looked at behaviours including smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and physical activity, while also analysing motivation to change behaviour and levels of depression and anxiety.
The results showed no significant effects of communicating DNA based risk estimates on smoking cessation, diet, or physical activity.
There were also no effects on any other behaviours (alcohol use, medication use, sun protection behaviours, and attendance at screening or behavioural support programmes).
There were no effects on motivation to change behaviour, and no adverse effects, such as depression and anxiety.
Further analyses provided no clear evidence that communication of a risk-conferring genotype affected behaviour more than communication of the absence of such a genotype.
“Existing evidence does not support expectations that such interventions could play a major role in motivating behaviour change to improve population health,” the authors concluded.