Friday, August 31, 2012

How my favorite hair product might have permanently changed my life...

Am up early this morning pondering about vanity and its affect on one's health. 4 words: Paraben, everyday, ten years

I regularly think now of possible causes, things, that could make me go from normal 33-year-old guy last fall to the 34-year-old guy with the never ending headache and depleted endocrine system levels of last winter who didn't know if he'd ever be able to work again. That guy who had to take a month's leave of absence because some unknown force had knocked him on his hind end. We had found a treatment that made me feel human again, made me able to do things like walk outside without being absolutely and painfully blinded by sunlight. Able to even saw, and lift, and pound to build a backyard greenhouse. A way out of all of that without ever knowing what got me there to start with.

Choices and ponderings over the past 6 months have led me to change the course of my life this summer. Led me to analyze the things in life that are needed, that are wanted, and that make me happy. My concern for happiness, mainly fueled by the background fear that without knowing what obliterated my endocrine system to start with, that my newly refound energy and health could all slip away without warning. In some ways my returned feelings of vigor through treatment left me with a new found lease on life. One I can imagine that is not dissimilar to living under the shadow of a critical condition only to be told that you have now been cured...we just don't know what made you sick to begin with. And if I am honest, I have not ever been completely well over these past few months. The neverending headache has threatened to return several times throughout the late spring and summer. The nerves in my face occasionally tingle and pang and I have momentary bouts of extreme light sensitivity...just like the bad ole' days.

I Googled something yesterday which led to reading several health articles, that lead to reading a couple of medical studies, which led me to learn of three chemicals that have been banned in India, Japan, and banned from use in things like shampoo and hair products in Great Britain for their drastic and negative effects on on the human and mammalian endocrine system. Yet we still use it regularly in America despite the warnings of foreign studies due to one thing, it can keep our products shelf-worthy for months after being cheaply produced in a lab. One article, from a doctor, citing four medical studies said that if anything you use has methylparaben, propylparaben, or butylparaben in it...throw it immediately in the trash.

That warning, throw it in the trash if your product has even one of these chemicals in it, keeps ringing in my head. After a brief trip to the medicine cabinet I found one of the "parabens" in my deodorant, one in my shaving cream, and TWO in my favorite hair glue. I have used that same Hair Glue every day (sometimes multiple times a day) for the past ten years. What if the product that has given me my signature spiky 'do has caused all of this. Upon my last visit to the doctor, four months of hormone replacement therapy showed some improvement, but not as much as my doctor felt that it should have. I have used my favorite hair product, with both methyl and propyl paraben in it, every single day of my treatment.

So, I guess my year of changes continues. Last night I went through my bathroom products and threw away everything with parabens of any form in them. I was, thankfully, left with an all natural deodorant from Tom's of Maine and a far inferior pomade that "might" handle my crazy hair half as well as my paraben-ridden "Got2Be Glued". Feeling a bit better, though frustrated that my year of change (health, lifestyle, car, career) may have been caused by my own vanity. Yet, there are also multiple studies, showing that estrogen cannot be stripped from public water supplies through the normal processed used in US water treatment plants. Why do I suddenly shift to this in this post? Because paraben is a xeno-estrogen. It is a cheap, sythetic (some articles said "mutated"), lab created estrogen. While I have been rubbing it on my head every day for the past ten years in my favorite hair product, it doesn't explain why my doctor is now treating six men other than myself for this same condition in my small community. She is baffled and joked that she could get the Nobel Prize if only she could figure out my there is this sudden onset of this condition in my town when nine months ago I was the only one that she had ever seen in all her years of doctoring. I do not like where this line of questioning is leading me...not even sure how to get our water supply tested for it. Guess we take it one step at a time. I get my endocrine system levels tested again in late December of this year. I am going to make every effort to not use any products with parabens in them between now and then. Wonder if it will help?

Here is a link to one of the "Men's Health" style articles that led me to reading actually medical studies for part of my evening last night. This article is in no way particularly scholarly, but it was a spring board for an evening of reading studies on testing of parabens on rats, men in foreign countries, and health effects of male exposure to xeno-estrogens and other forms of estrogen in high doses: