More positive bowel tests after folic fortification

In the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s latest report on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), which covers the period between July 2008 and June 2011, the FOBT positivity rate was 7.8% compared to 7.5% in the previous period.

Australian health authorities are keeping a close watch on bowel cancer rates following the fortification of bread-making flour starting in October 2009, on advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the AIHW report said.

However causality attributed to any increase in bowel cancer incidence after the folate mandate cannot be readily proven with baseline data, it said.

Other factors could have caused the increased positivity rate including the fact that three different kits were used in Phase 2 of the program, following the temporary suspension of screening due to a faulty test kit.

“We have flagged [folic acid fortification] as a possibility – there is