Don’t Do It, Fellows! A Warning About Tissue Building Drugs [Part 1] – Peary Rader (1962)

Currently, the abuse of large amounts of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is commonplace in the world of competitive bodybuilding. In the mid-twentieth century, such enhancement was still relatively new and in its experimental stages, and not well-known to the public. By late 1962, Peary Rader saw fit to directly address this development in order to make weight trainees aware of the dangers of tissue-building drugs. The article below appeared in the November-December 1962 issue of Iron Man. This may be one of the earliest published warnings against steroids to the bodybuilding world. The first half of the article explains the nature of such drugs, and admonishes against their use for bodybuilding purposes. The second half of the article, which will be posted later here at FOUNDATIONS OF IRON, presents an interesting examination of the use of tissue-building substances in the livestock industry.


A photo of George Eiferman, included in the article and cited as example of outstanding natural physique development without steroid use. Click to enlarge (appears in new window/tab).

Magazine Excerpt:

Yes, there are new drugs on the market that will give startlingly fast results in the building of muscle tissue. Not exactly new, for we have known about them for some years, but new to the general public.

In February of 1960, a doctor friend of ours, who is also a barbell man of some years experience, wrote us about two new drugs that had come on the market recommended for tissue building. He reported that he had tried these two drugs personally with rapid gains in bodyweight and muscle size. Now it probably would seem that we would jump at the chance to publicize any such apparent sensational breakthrough in the realm of bodybuilding. First, we do not approve of the use of drugs for any phase of health or bodybuilding and, second, these drugs hadn’t been proven and still haven’t been proven from bad side effects. There is some possibility that they may have some cancer causing reactions. Because of this we felt that they should be kept unpublicized until they were at least proven safe.

It has now become apparent that we can no longer refrain from some remarks about these drugs, for we find that many of the top bodybuilders of the country are using them. We are not publicizing them here to make it possible for you to use them, but rather to warn you about the dangers of their use. While it is true that they will give rapid gains–perhaps more so than any other thing you can use, and with less effort in your workouts (in fact you can make some gains without workouts) why should you take a chance on disaster by taking these questionable drugs. Your gains with exercise and good foods and food supplements may be a little slower but it is safe and sure.

These drugs are classified as therapeutic agents providing nitrogen retention and protein anabolism. They are supposed to reduce excretion and loss of nutritional nitrogen, effect protein anabolism, increase the appetite and improve the sense of well-being.

Clinical experiments have indicated many side effects, especially in cases where some liver and prostate disease is present. Other body conditions have indicated danger from the drug’s use. The drugs were developed for use on patients who were ill and debilitated. Being drugs they, of course, require a prescription but this is apparently not too difficult to obtain, as many men are now taking one or the other of these drugs.

We know of two of these drugs and there are probably others available by now. One is called Dianabol and is probably the most widely used and is distributed by the CIBA Pharmaceutical Products Inc., Summit, New Jersey. The other is called Nilevar and is put out by G. D. Searle & Co. of Chicago.

We do not believe it wise to publicize the names of men who are using or have used these drugs, for while it has produced results that have been unusual, we don’t know what unfavorable results may come from its use. It has been recommended that the use of these drugs should be confined to a period of not over three months because of possible dangers and even then they should not be taken over a month at a time, with a rest of a week or so between periods, according to recommendations of the drug companies who manufacture and sell these drugs.

We can only warn you not to use these drugs; for there are legitimate, safe and sure methods of musclebuilding, but, if you are going to take them in spite of our warning, then be sure you do so under the full supervision and observation of a very competent physician.

In all fairness to this situation we must report that a number of high school and college coaches seem to be using these drugs, especially Dianabol (which is the cheaper of the two, tho I understand they are identical otherwise). Remarkable weight gains have been made on football players who were a little underweight. The chief side effect seems to be a nose bleed if they take too much. Usually two tablets are given but when this is cut to one, the nose bleed usually stops. It is used a great deal apparently in hospitals on patients badly in need of added bodyweight, as well as on new born babies, we have been told. It is available in various forms besides tablets.

We have discussed these products with a druggist who says that they sell quite a quantity of these drugs. The apparent widespread use of them has convinced us that we might as well bring it into the open and tell our readers about it. We must warn them that there are dangers connected with taking drugs that stimulate what we consider to be an unnatural tissue growth. We know this probably will not keep a lot of people from using it, but until more is known about the long term side effects we feel it is best to follow proven natural methods of muscle building.

One thought on “Don’t Do It, Fellows! A Warning About Tissue Building Drugs [Part 1] – Peary Rader (1962)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s