A class in human body systems turned unexpectedly practical when an Otago University student cycled naked through a lecture hall yesterday.

But it was all in aid of a good cause, the cyclist, cancer survivor Paddy O'Brien told the New Zealand Herald.

Footage of the escapade, which occurred before hundreds of health sciences' students, has been posted online and O'Brien is keen for it to go far and wide in an effort to raise awareness of testicular cancer.

The nude ride, in which O'Brien wore just a helmet and some strategically placed rugby strapping tape, was "a little chilly", but adrenaline took the edge off any discomfort.

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Stunned students watched in almost complete silence as O'Brien crossed the stage, before bursting into laughter as he exited the lecture hall.

The university's proctor was less impressed with the native Californian's actions.

"It was my first [act of public nudity] and most likely my last, because the university does not advocate for nudity in the university."

The proctor saw the humour in the situation, but gave a stern directive that no more nude performances were to take place at the university.

O'Brien certainly won't be going near any rugby strapping tape again - removing it from such a sensitive area was not an experience he wanted to repeat.

"That was shocking."

O'Brien, who is from the San Francisco Bay area but is studying economics and a Bachelor of Science at Otago, has a long history of involvement in health charities.

After being treated for a rare bone cancer at the age of 11 he was the poster child for major fundraising campaigns, including for a San Francisco hospital.

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The experience taught him the importance of spreading awareness of health issues, as a major donor would often stump a large part of the cash needed for the projects.

But anyone could do their bit to raise awareness.

"It's been my philosophy ever since to do good for as many people as possible."

The nude stunt was part of a campaign by O'Brien and his friends to alert people to testicular cancer, which is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 39.

The cancer has a high survival rate when caught early.

However, the response to footage of the stunt had caught O'Brien and his friends by surprise and they were now busy planning what to do next.

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He urged anyone who wanted to know more about testicular cancer, including symptoms, treatment and support available, to go to the Testicular Cancer New Zealand website at testicular.org.nz