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Hidden history: Energy drinks used to contain radioactive elements, were sold with claims of boosting performance

Energy drinks

(NaturalNews) Every day millions of people consume so-called "energy" drinks so they can jump-start their day or keep alert throughout the day. But most have no idea the kind of poison they're putting in their bodies.

Having said that, energy drinks today are nowhere nearly as hazardous as they were a century ago...when they contained real energy. As reported by IFLScience, the active ingredient in these drinks was radium – a radioactive element that sets free a packet of radiant energy with each atomic decay. And though the connection between ingesting a radioactive element and getting a resultant boost in energy is not proven by a long shot, that did not stop consumers in the early 1900s from ignoring the known consequences of drinking radioactive substances and risking their long-term health.

One of these products was a "triple distilled" concoction called RadiThor, which was nothing more than radium dissolved in water. Sold in the 1920s it came in one-ounce bottles that cost about $1 each (or about $15 in today's dollars). The maker said its drink not only boosted energy but also served as a cure to a number of illnesses, including impotence.

Two bottles a day for three years

As you might imagine, there was no real evidence of any sexual benefits. However, at least one scientific study did make the claim that radium water might boost "the sexual passion of water newts." And in the pre-Viagra era, for many men this claim was enough, making RadiThor a major seller.

One of the product's most famous consumers was Eben Byers, an industrialist from Pittsburgh and amateur golfer of some notoriety. He first experienced RadiThor when he used it to help him get relief from a broken arm. Though the product did not have any narcotics, Byers became addicted to it, at least psychologically if not physiologically. Even after his arm healed, he continued using RadiThor in large amounts.

Reports said that he would consume one to two bottles daily, and did so for three years, telling all his friends what a great product it was. Some of them also began using the product and made it a habit.

But in the end Byers' habitual use of RadiThor took his life. Over time, ingested radium permeates bones and, therefore, all of its radiated energy gets deposited throughout the skeleton. It combined to deliver an incredibly high dose of radiation to Byers; he developed holes in his skull, lost nearly all of his jaw and suffered many other bone-related illnesses, dying a horrible death the last day of March, 1932.

Half-life of 1,600 years

His death launched a national conversation around the country about the supposed 'benefits' of such drinks, despite the fact that the dangers of ingesting radium were already known to medical and science professionals. The medical community was studying the health effects of radium since it was first discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898, IFLScience noted.

The British scientist, Walter Lazarus-Barlow, published as early as 1913 that radium ingestion led to absorption in the bones. In 1914, Ernest Zueblin, a medical researcher at the University of Maryland, published a meta-analysis of 700 reports, many of which showed that bone necrosis and ulcerations were a routine side effect from radium ingestion. But these early findings did not get much publicity, so RadiThor sales continued to be strong throughout the 1920s.

For Byers' burial, he was placed in a coffin lined with lead to block the release of radiation from his bones. In 1965, 33 years later, MIT scientist Robley Evans exhumed Byers' skeleton in order to measure the amount of radium in his bones; radium has a half-life of 1,600 years, so Byers' bones would have virtually the same amount of radium in them as when he died.

So while today's energy drinks are certainly not good for you, they were obviously much worse in an earlier era.





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