To Wash or Not To Wash

Peggy Rickard belongs to the same Landmark Worldwide Center (an international personal and professional growth, training and development landmarkqrcompany) as I do here in Arizona.  I didn’t know her, but she wanted to perform a service project for one of her Landmark courses and she wanted it to deal with the kidneys. The manager of the center – the ever affable Philip Rand – knew I did “something with kidneys,” so he asked if I would call her.  When I did, it turned out that she has a medical advocacy business, but that had nothing to do with her project.

We had a wonderful conversation.  Here was someone in one of my other communities who spoke my kidney language. Peggy had already contacted The National Kidney Foundation of Arizona and learned from Dr. James Ivie, the Director of Patient Services, that what was really needed was to have the information leaflets about kidney disease and donation translated into Spanish since Hispanics are at a higher risk for kidney disease.

Kidney ArizonaMaybe I can pick out a few words of Spanish here and there, but she needed more. I couldn’t translate the leaflets into Spanish for her and didn’t know anyone who could.  That night, I went to the center for the completion session of The Wisdom Unlimited course in which I had been participating. In a greet-those-you-don’t-know moment, I spoke with Nathaniel (Nat) Garcia II – since he was the person directly in front of me – only to discover he is a missionary… and fluent in Spanish…and more than willing to do the translations.  Problem solved.

That got me to thinking about language. While taking a shower the next morning, the bottle of shampoo I was using caught my eye. It had the words ‘sulfate free’ in large letters on the label.  Hmmm, sulfate looks a lot like sulphur.  Are they related?

After checking a bunch of dictionaries, I decided to use the definition of The Medical Dictionary at http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/sulfate since it seemed the simplest to understand.

“a salt of sulfuric acid”

Uh-oh, sulfuric means made of sulfur. Although the spelling may be different, sulfuric acid is highly corrosive. It’s also a mineral… and is used in both waste water treatment and fertilizer creation. Why would shampoo have this as an ingredient in the first place?shampoo

I figured the best person to provide an answer would be a hair stylist so I read Melissa Jongman’s article on http://hubpages.com/style/Sulfates-Are-they-damaging-your-hair-Why-to-opt-for-a-sulfate-free-shampoo

“Sulfates are detergents used to make the shampoo lather. They’re inexpensive to use in shampoos, which explains why more than 90% of shampoos contain them. The most common sulfates used in these shampoos are:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
  • Ammonia Laureth Sulphate (ALS)
  • TEA Lauryeth Sulfate (TEA)
  • Sodium Myreth Sulphate (SMS)”

This was not looking good.  Sulphur is something we, as Chronic Kidney Disease patients, need to avoid. As I explained in What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, sulphur can further damage your already damaged kidneys.

Book CoverSo what can we do?  Not washing our hair is obviously not the answer. I googled shampoos without sulfates and came up with a list of 43 at http://sulfatefreeshampoos.org/sulfate-free-shampoo-list/#list. While the latest edit of this list was during this new year, I am not familiar with the editors nor the products. However, you can safely bet that I’ll try them.

Let’s go back to why sulfates are not good for CKD patients for a minute. I stumbled across a CKD education site called quizlet.com. Perusing this site, I found the statement that

“Very late CKD is due to reduced excretion of sulfates and phosphates.”

Of course! That makes perfect sense: as our kidney function declines, we are not excreting as much of these substances as we did before we were lucky enough (ouch!) to develop CKD and they build up.  That’s CKD 101.

A nervous me decided to see what other beauty or health products used sulfates. I discovered it’s used in body wash (Wait! Isn’t sulfate a skin irritant?), toothpaste, and nail polish. That tripped a thought. Didn’t I blog about that?

I used the search function on the blog only to find that that blog dealt with other chemicals in nail polish.  (Gritting teeth and crying out in anguish) Is nothing safe anymore? All right, pick a chemical… any chemical.

Looking at the ingredients in both hair products and nail polish, I chose phthalates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html helped us out with this one:chemistry

“Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. … They are used in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes)….

How Phthalates Affect People’s Health

Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects of exposure to phthalates.”

Maybe the human health effects are unknown and maybe this passes quickly via the urine, but if you have Chronic Kidney Disease, you are not filtering your blood as well as other people.  Why take a chance of making it worse?

Now that I’ve probably made you fearful of using any beauty product on the market, be aware that there are many products without phthalate. Breast Cancer Action (Yes, there seems to be a connection between breast cancer and phthalates.) at http://www.bcaction.org/our-take-on-breast-cancer/environment/safe-cosmetics/phthalate-free-cosmetics/  offers a list of companies which produce phthalate free beauty aids.

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAILDigital Cover Part 2 redone - Copy

Let’s talk about service and gratitude for just a minute.  While I’ve always believed in service, it’s only since I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (way back in in 2008) that I’ve become aware of how very thankful I am for the little things in life – like spreading CKD Awareness by writing this blog, posting some CKD tidbit on Twitter daily, starting an Instagram account for SlowItDownCKD, and offering my books.  Thank YOU for being the readers.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

Paint on My Nails

I am happy to say that we have had quite a few celebrations lately.  Abby successfully changed careers from insurance to municipal funding.  Lara was promoted to the first female Krav Maga head instructor in Phoenix. Nima started her New York tour company (Spellbound… give her a call.). firworksOne of my son-in-laws changed careers, too, and is now the CEO of an established firm.  Oh, and The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1 was published.

Having four grown daughters now and in the throes of Macular Degeneration which is now at the point of I-can’t-see-my-nails-clearly-enough-to-do-them-myself (Why, oh why, couldn’t it be I-can’t-see-the-dishes-clearly-enough-to-do-them-myself instead?), I caved.  I don’t really like anyone fussing with any part of my body, but I wanted to look really nifty for each of these celebrations.  So I went for a manicure/pedicure again…and again…and again… and then I got to thinking.

Indeed, there is a relationship between Chronic Kidney Disease and nail polish, but it isn’t exactly what I expected.  I scurried right over to DaVita at http://www.davita.com/kidney-disease/overview/symptoms-and-diagnosis/hair,-nails-and-chronic-kidney-disease/e/  and found the following.

Nitrogen waste products build up in people with CKD, which can lead to damaged fingernails and toenails. Show your doctor if you have any abnormal change in your nails such as:

  • Yellow or opaque coloring
  • Brittle nails
  • Pitted nails (can easily break off or fall off)painted nails
  • Linear depressions across the fingernail (called Beau’s lines)
  • Ridge-shaped nails
  • Raised ridges, thin and concave shaped (called koilonychia)
  • White streaks, spots on the nails (called leukonychia)

It’s clear you can’t see these damage indicators if you can’t see your nails.  All right then, maybe I could have my nails done for the occasions, then take off the polish or the gel tips after.  Would that work for me, I wondered?

The concern over the chemicals found in nail polishes—and gel manicures—are {sic} not new, but the link to cancer, however, is. In a recent article published in the  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Chris Adigun, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine, emphasized the dangers of frequent use of gel manicures.  ”The essential UV light required during the application of the gel is a risk factor for skin cancer,” wrote Dr. Adigun.  “[And] in general, any manicure left in place for an extended period of time is not a good idea Journal of American Dermatologybecause you are a not seeing what is going on underneath the nail polish,” he says.

Frequent gel manicures can lead to nail thinning, brittleness, peeling, and cracking. Or worse, gel polish can hide nail discolorations that can signal various lung, heart, kidney {my italics} and liver diseases, as well as diabetes and anemia.

VidaVibrante.com at http://www.vidavibrante.com/2013/08/19/gel-manicures-when-too-much-of-a-good-thing-is-bad-for-your-health/  is not a site for CKD patients specifically, nor is it a medical site.  Yet, that’s where I found the above medical cautions. This is not looking good.

I was surprised to find that WebMD at http://www.webmd.com/beauty/nails/20120411/is-your-nail-polish-toxic had this information.

In recent years, some nail product makers have removed these chemicals {This refers to dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde.} from their products, then labeled them as non-toxic.

“What we found out is that in many of the cases the label was inaccurate,” Lang tells WebMD. “And that’s really what our message is. We don’t know if our samples are representative of the industry.”

Some products that did not carry a toxic-free label actually had none of the chemicals in them, the researchers also found.

Encarta Dictionary tells us toluene istoulene

a colorless liquid aromatic hydrocarbon resembling benzene, but less flammable. Use: solvent, high-octane fuel, organic synthesis.

And we put that on our nails?  Willingly?  I think that’s the end of thinking about gel tips for me, but does it mean I have to give up this new practice of having my nails done entirely?  Even for special occasions?  Oh, okay, lots of special occasions.

Ummm, so what – if any – brands are safe? I jumped over to EcoWatch at http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/19/7-nontoxic-nail-polish-brands/ for some brands. Zoya, Piggypaint, Suncoat, Honeybee Gardens, RGB, Sheswai, and LVX are the brands they named.

I don’t know very much about cosmetics – including nail polish – but I’m certainly willing to give these brands a try. Allow me to join the rank of those who misquote the Bard’s line from Macbeth: Vanity {It’s really “frailty.”}, thy name is woman.Kidney Arizona

But I’m not misquoting this. The Phoenix Kidney Walk is April 19th and we have a team!  SlowItDown is the umbrella group (not really sure that’s the right word) for all the books and the blog.  Remember asking me to come out from behind the typewriter?  This is it!  Use the walk as an excuse to introduce yourself to me or, better yet, join the team.  Just in case you don’t remember how:

Go to Kidneywalk.kintera.org. You’ll see “Register Here” in blue on the top left. Click it. Then you’ll need to sign an agreement, click join a team, choose SlowItDown from the dropdown. Hit continue and it will ask you to create a sign on with the usual basic questions asked.

If you’d prefer not to walk, but do want to donate, please do that in Team SlowItDown’s name.  Thanks, all.

Big news!  Every third order for The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1 will be FREE from now until the end of the month.  We already had an order-it-free day on my birthday and now Amazon has come up with this deal.  Yay, Amazon.  I urge you to The_Book_of_Blogs-_M_Cover_for_Kindletake advantage of this. To make certain there’s a free book in the deal for you, ask two friends to order the book at the same time.

Keep an eye out for Part 2, also.  I’m working really hard to have that out by the end of this shortened month. Funny story about why there’s a Part 1 and a Part 2.  No matter how I edited, cut, shortened the original version of the book, it came out to over 600 pages.  I could barely hold it!

Until next week,

Keep living your life!