Communicating risk regarding food consumption: The case of processed meat

Slavica Zec, Clara Minto, Carlo Agostoni, Carolina Fano, Honoria Ocagli, Giulia Lorenzoni, Dario Gregori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present research combines real data and parameters found in recent literature that were used to design realistic scenarios demonstrating the potential effects (benefits and costs) of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s risk communication regarding the consumption of processed meat, which was proven to be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) in an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)/WHO report. The impact of the risk communication of processed meat consumption was simulated using Monte Carlo microsimulation models. The results showed that a 1% reduction in the number of high-level processed meat consumers may lead to a yearly decrease in CRC cases of 406.43 (IC 95%: −243.94, 1056.81), while the more extreme scenario of a 15% reduction may lead to 2086.62 fewer cases (IC 95%: 1426.66, 2746.57). On the other hand, if demand contraction in the processed meat sector resulted in a 0.1% loss in employment, one could expect 27.23 all-cause mortalities attributable to job loss (IC 95%: 16.55, 37.80). This simulation study demonstrates that caution should be taken when implementing public awareness campaigns, particularly when the prevention message is not straightforward.

Original languageEnglish
Article number400
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Processed meat
  • Risk communication
  • Risk perception
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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