Bad advice about cancer from icon/CANCERactive

Skeptics - profits before patients?
Bad advice about cancer - Professor David Colquhoun of UCL


Professor David Colquhoun of UCL has formally apologised to Chris Woollams and his family for implying, for the second time in 6 years, in his blog DC’s Improbable Science that Chris had set up, and then somehow run, the Charity CANCERactive ’for private gain’. This apology came after Chris threatened to sue Colquhoun for libel and defamation of character.

Chris said of the apology, ’This was not a disagreement over science. Colquhoun published an inaccurate piece from a Skeptic minion about my ’business interests’ (which were nothing of the sort) and extrapolated it to a non-sensical conclusion which I believed was defamatory. As far as I know, he made no attempt to check the details in the ’research’, and certainly not with me. The accountants for both companies provided signed documents that I had never taken a penny for any of the work I have done in the last 10 years.

Let’s be clear. Defamation is about fabricating and/or telling lies to harm a person’s reputation. The apology has prevented court action - action I was totally prepared to see through to the end’.

It is apparently not the first time Colquhoun has been in hot water over these sort of ill considered statements. In 2007 there were complaints to the Provost of UCL by Dr Alan Lakin about defamatory comments concerning his wife, Dr Ann Walker. Another was his smearing of Patrick Holford who he called ’Holfraud’ in his blog. He took that down after lawyers’ letters were sent.

’Frankly, I am surprised that the Provost of UCL sees fit to allow this man to be a Professor at UCL. UCL isn’t just responsible for research and teaching. It has moral responsibilities too,’ added Chris. ’Personally I think that suggesting I was making money out of my daughter’s death is atrocious and shameful behaviour’.


Colquhoun removed his blog about Chris as soon as he consulted his own lawyers. The blog was entitled ’Bad advice about cancer from cancer active / ICON.

All this from a man who has called nutrition ’nutri-bollocks’ in a blog that any person with cancer could read. When the American Cancer Society produces a report in 2012 saying there has been an ’explosion’ in research into natural compounds and cancer, and then talks of ’overwhelming’ evidence that diet, weight control and exercise can increase survival times and even prevent a cancer returning, it beggars belief that this Professor of Pharmacology thinks himself justified to publicly pontificate in areas outside his qualified expertise. Anybody with cancer that followed his nutritional views would be stupid’.

Professor David Colquhoun’s apology to Chris Woollams

In my blog posted under the heading ‘Bad advice about cancer from ICON/cancer active’ on 18 May 2012 allegations were made that Chris Woollams’ business affairs involved him obtaining significant personal financial benefits from the charity CANCERactive. I accept, and wish to acknowledge publicly, that Mr Woollams has never taken any money from the charity; to the contrary he has made sizeable donations to it and undertaken significant voluntary work for it. I also accept that the charity and the company Health Issues Ltd, that was associated with it, have nothing to do with Mr Woollams’ business affairs.

He is a father who lost his daughter to cancer, and has devoted considerable funds and time to charitable work in this area. I do not question either his motives or his integrity. I apologise for the distress this has caused both him and his family.


The Provost of UCL is Professor Malcolm Grant, a Barrister. His contact details are : e mail: [email protected]. Readers may feel inclined to write to him to express their own views on the above.


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