In New Zealand we received news some time ago that well-respected physicist Paul Callaghan was trying vitamin C therapy for his cancer. Paul Callaghan is also well-known for his science communication efforts.

News today is that he has reviewed his trial of this treatment. He has been reported as saying he found ’absolutely no evidence’ it worked.

Kate Newton’s article is worth reading – it’s a nice example of clear journalism to my mind. Readers should note the scientific approach taken, measuring the outcome of the treatment, e.g. ’tracking its effectiveness through a blood test for protein carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), which indicates cancer levels.’

Of this self-study he is quoted: ’I have, as a result, learned enough to say that there is absolutely no evidence of any beneficial effect of high-dose intravenous vitamin C in my case.’

Newton goes on to relate Callaghan’s concern over how advocates of alternative remedies are promoting his efforts.

As an experiment on just one case (Callaghan) it can’t be generalised, but it proceeded through recording the effect on the cancer and concluding from these measurements, rather than the ’it worked for me’ type of anecdote that one often sees related by alternative remedy advocates.

Finally, I wish Callaghan the best of luck with the remainder of his treatment.

Further reading

Some readers may recall I wrote briefly on high-dose vitamin C as a treatment for whooping cough as part of longer examination of IAS spokesperson Michelle Rudgeley’s remarks to a journalist* and similarly earlier for severe pneumonia.**


I saw a suggestion online that there may be radio coverage of this–Paul Callaghan is frequently on Radio New Zealand, so this sounds reasonable–but have been unable to locate this (assuming it exists). If this is case, let me know – it’d be good to add it for readers to hear.

Quick heads-up: if you’re interested in science communication, you want to be following ScienceOnline2012, e.g. via twitter. Be prepared for the sheer amount going on, though.

* Rudgeley has since repeated her claims on the IAS website.

** For (part of) the backstory, see this earlier article looking at the local media coverage.

Other articles on Code for life:

Animating our DNA*

Monkey business, or is my uncle also my Dad?

Haemophilia – towards a cure using genetic engineering

Teaching bioinformatics at high school

What books do you think geeks should read?