Health DNA testing has ‘little or no impact’ when it comes to changing unhealthy lifestyles a new study has found from the University of Cambridge.

Researchers analysed the results of 18 studies looking at the effects of analysing the genetic risk estimates of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease by DNA testing.

In each instance, behavioural change – such as quitting smoking, stopping drinking or doing more exercise – could reduce a person’s risk of developing health issues.

They found that communicating DNA-based risks for these behaviours did little in prompting people to change their unhealthy ways.

The study also found that there were no effects on other behaviours such as alcohol misuse, medication use, sun protection behaviours and attendance at screening or behavioural support programmes.

The research team, led by Professor Theresa Marteau at the University of Cambridge, said the results are particularly timely as people are becoming more interested in personalised medicine and increasing use of direct-to-consumer testing for a range of common complex disorders.

The findings were published in the British Medical Journal on 15 March 2016

Researchers said current studies in the field were at “risk of bias” and evidence was typically of low quality.

They concluded: “Existing evidence does not support expectations that such interventions could play a major role in motivating behaviour change to improve population health.”

The popularity of health DNA testing has seen an increase over the last few years with many companies offering this type of service.