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Encyclopedia > Eben Byers

Eben McBurney Byers (April 12, 1880 - March 31, 1932) was a wealthy American socialite, athlete, and industrialist who earned notoriety in the 1930s after a gruesome illness and death caused by radiation poisoning resulting from the consumption of a popular patent medicine made from radium dissolved in water. April 12 is the 102nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (103rd in leap years). ... 1880 was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... March 31 is the 90th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (91st in Leap years), with 275 days remaining, as the final day of March. ... 1932 (MCMXXXII) is a leap year starting on a Friday. ... Radiation poisoning, also called radiation sickness, is a form of damage to organic tissue due to excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. ... Patent medicine is the term given to various medical compounds sold under a variety of names and labels, though they were for the most part actually trademarked medicines, not patented. ... General Name, Symbol, Number radium, Ra, 88 Chemical series alkaline earth metals Group, Period, Block 2, 7, s Appearance silvery white metallic Atomic mass (226) g/mol Electron configuration [Rn] 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... Water (from the Old English word wæter; c. ...

The son of industrialist Alexander Byers, he was educated at St. Paul's School and Yale College, where he earned a reputation as an athlete and ladies' man. Byers eventually became the chairman of the Girard Iron Company, which had been created by his father, and was the U.S. Amateur Golf Champion of 1907. In 1927, while returning via chartered train from the annual Harvard-Yale football game, he fell from his berth and injured his arm. Byers complained of persistent pain and a doctor suggested that he take Radithor, a patent medicine manufactured by William J. A. Bailey. Bailey was a Harvard College dropout who falsely claimed to be a doctor of medicine and who became rich from the sale of Radithor, which he made by dissolving radium in water to high concentrations, and which he held could cure many ailments by stimulating the endocrine glands. He offered physicians a 17% rebate on the prescription of each dose of Radithor. For other uses, see Yale (disambiguation). ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Harvard College is the main undergraduate section of Harvard University. ...

Byers began taking enormous doses of Radithor, which he believed had greatly improved his health. In the process he probably subjected himself to more than three times the lethal radiation dose. By 1930, when he stopped taking the remedy, he had accumulated significant amounts of radium in his bones, leading to fractures, lesions, loss of teeth, and eventually the loss of most of his jaw and to the appearance of holes in his skull.

His illness and death received much publicity, leading to a heightened awareness of the dangers of radiation poisoning, and to the adoption of laws that increased the powers of the FDA. William Bailey was never tried for Byers's death, but his business was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission. The United States Food and Drug Administration is the government agency responsible for regulating food, dietary supplements, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, biologics and blood products in the United States. ... FTC headquarters, Washington, D.C. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an Independent Agency of the United States Government, established in 1914. ...


  • Roger M. Macklis, "The Great Radium Scandal," Scientific American, 269(2), pp. 94-99, Aug. 1993.
Scientific American is a popular-science magazine, published monthly since August 28, 1845, making it the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Protest Decision 2001 EAD 291 - EBEN BYERS, JR. (383 words)
Eben Byers Jr., a member of Local 377, filed a pre-election protest pursuant to Article XIII, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 2000-2001 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election ("Rules").
Byers ballot was challenged at the time of the Local’s ballot count, and his vote was not determinative, so the challenge was not resolved.
Byers, who has been on lay-off from United Freezer and Storage since July 2000, claims that he has at all times paid his dues and is not on withdrawal status.
  More results at FactBites »



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