FRIDAY, Oct. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) — As more genetic tests are developed that spot increased risks for certain cancers, one might think that high-risk people would be more proactive about getting screened.
But a new study suggests that, at least with colon cancer, knowledge does not change behavior: People who found out their genes doubled their risk of colon cancer were no more likely than people with average risk to get screened.
“It didn’t make any difference, not at all,” said study author Dr. David Weinberg, chairman of medicine at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
Weinberg cautioned against using the findings to come to conclusions about the impacts of genetic tests for other cancers. Still, he said, the “modest amount of available data” suggests that genetic tests like the colon cancer one — which don’t confirm a huge increased risk of disease — don’t alter health habits.
The researchers were surprised by the results. “Our hypothesis was that this would be effective,” Weinberg said, especially considering that a person’s genetic makeup is so personal and “might be a more compelling motivator than something like their cholesterol level or a lifestyle choice like smoking.”