16/03/2016 5:10 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

People Who Know They've Got a Higher Disease Risk Still Smoke And Drink

Woman Using Sensory Perception
Jan Stromme via Getty Images
Woman Using Sensory Perception

Being told you've got a genetic risk for cancer or Alzheimer's disease isn't enough to change behavior to reduce the risk.

A review of 18 studies, including two with Australian data, found people who were told they had an increased genetic risk of disease didn't change their diet, give up smoking and drinking or take on more exercise.

The review, published in the British Medical Journal, also showed people who discovered they had a genetic predisposition for cancer, heart disease or Alzheimer's disease were not more likely to experience depression or anxiety.

The review was done at the University of Cambridge and the team, led by Professor Theresa Marteau, concluded: "these results do not support use of genetic testing or the search for risk-conferring gene variants for common complex diseases on the basis that they motivate risk-reducing behaviour".