Vitamin C came in for another media bashing last week amid claims that high doses of the vitamin could increase the risk of cancer.

Poor old vitamin C - allegations are constantly being made by medical science and sensationalised by the Press.

Yet we never hear about it when scientists retract their findings a few weeks later.

If I had a suspicious nature, I might almost believe there were forces at work to undermine the public's confidence in supplements and, by association, in complementary medicine.

Nothing, I'm sure, could be further from the truth. In the latest, much-publicised study by the University of Pennsylvania, vitamin C was exposed to rancid fat molecules in a test tube.

The results indicated these fats may react with vitamin C to form DNA-damaging agents that are linked to cancer.

Yet the study was not conducted on living people and the reaction of these agents on DNA was not demonstrated.

Dr Ian Blair, the lead researcher, was rightly concerned that flawed conclusions might be drawn from such a narrow scientific study, telling the Press:

"Absolutely, for God's sake, don't say vitamin C causes cancer."

His words were promptly ignored, initiating scare stories which are confusing and highly irresponsible.

Meanwhile, the general public is largely unaware of other major research studies confirming that vitamin C actually inhibits the formation of rancid fats within the human body.

Vitamin C has also been shown to protect against both cell toxicity and cell death associated with these lowly lipids. There are many studies underlining the importance of vitamin C incancer prevention but few receive the attention they deserve.

Clearly, laboratory experiments in test tubes cannot replace what really happens in the human body, particularly if human cells are not even involved.

Nutrients work together in the body, rather like a football team.

Goalie, centre forward and defence are all needed to win a game.

If you separate the goal-keeper and start bombarding him with footballs, chances are he won't be able to fend them off.

He may even be responsible for some own-goals.

It's similar with vitamins if you extract them from human tissue, separate them from each other and then put them in a test tube, they probably won't perform as expected.

Let's also not forget that a lack of vitamin C can weaken the very structure of our artery walls, making them more prone to damage from lifestyle factors such as smoking or eating fried foods.

Vitamin C works as a potent antioxidant, "disarming" damaging compounds, thereby supporting immune system function and protecting against disease.

Interestingly, the body doesn't distinguish between dietary vitamin C and supplemental vitamin C.

So, if vitamin C did cause cancer, one would not only have to stop consuming supplements but vitamin C-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, too.