“The radium water worked fine until his jaw fell out.”
From the early 20th century up to the 1930s the use of radioactive materials for dubious quack medical cures were common. There were various machines which could irradiate the body, radium laced salves and creams, radioactive medicines, radium cosmetics, and a wide variety of other radioactive products. One popular product was radioactive health water.
Often distilled water containing radium, it was marketed to treat or cure a wide variety of ailments. Whether you suffered from rheumatism or cancer, or if you simply need a boost of revigorating energy in your day to day life, radium water was a miracle cure for just about anything.
Many radium water producers advocated drinking radium water as a necessity of healthy living. At first companies simply sold bottled radium water on its own. Later, various products were marketed as a way to make your own radium water at home. Such products were either inserts which were placed in a jar of water, or were radium lined crocks with a tap which one used to brew radium water.
Radium water was legally sold until 1932 when a famous athlete named Eben Beyers died that year. Beyers was a popular consumer and spokesperson for Radithor, a brand of radium water manufactured by Baily Radium Laboratories Inc. It was founded by Dr. William J. A. Baily, who was not a real doctor but claimed his concoction of distilled water, radium, and mesothorium gave the consumer extra energy and strength. In 1932, Beyers had to have his jaw removed due to mouth cancer. A short time later he was dead. The Wall Street Journal did an expose of Radithor entitled “The Radium Water Worked Fine Until his Jaw Fell Out”. Outrage from Beyers’ death forced the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the dangers of radioactive health products, which eventually led to a ban in 1933.