Grow a Moustache and Spread the Word about Men's Health During the Month of Movember
For those who may not know about “Movember,” no, it is not a typo. While pink ribbons are the symbol of the month of October, the moustache becomes the official “walking, talking billboard” in November for promoting efforts to improving men’s health. Thousands of men in the United States and around the world will pledge to remain unshaven to promote awareness and prompt conversations about the sometimes-ignored issues of men’s health, specifically testicular and prostate cancer.
Movember was founded in Australia, but is now a global movement engaging guys to grow a “mo” – slang for moustache – during the 30 days of November. Participants can raise money for men’s health initiatives through programs such as the Movember Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the LiveStrong Foundation. Since 2003, more than 1.9 million participants in 21 countries have raised over $299 million toward the cause. Last year alone, over 850,000 supporters raised $126.3 million to “change the face of men’s health,” said CEO and Movember co-founder Adam Garone.
One in six men during their lifetime will hear these words from their doctor – “You have prostate cancer.” In the United States, over 240,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. Nearly 8600 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer, per the American Cancer Society. Both cancers can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include
• Age - it is rare in men younger than 40, but the chances increase quickly after the age of 50
• Race - it is more prominent in African-American men than in men of other races
• Nationality – prostate cancer is most common in North America and Northwestern Europe, but the reasons for this are not clear
• Family History – men with a close family member (father or brother) who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves.
• Genetics – there are some inherited genes that seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but this likely represents only a small number of the overall cases.
• Diet – Men who eat a lot of red meat or dairy tend to have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer, while a vegetarian diet has been found to be protective.
Other factors which may have a link to prostate cancer, but are still being researched, include obesity, smoking, and infection/inflammation of the prostate.
The causes of testicular cancers are less clear. Scientists have found a few risk factors such as having an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) which occurs in about 3% of baby boys, family history, HIV infection, age (about half of testicular cancer cases occur between the ages of 20 and 34), and race (White American men are about five times more likely to get testicular cancer.) Marijuana use has also been linked to testicular cancer.
Adult men should maintain regular health checkups even when they feel healthy. There is no recommended time to be screened for testicular cancer – your physician will probably conduct an exam during your annual visit – but any noticeable changes should be immediately reported and investigated. Prostate cancer screening is recommended for most men aged 50 or older, unless their doctor suggests the process begin earlier, such as in the case of African-American men or those men with a family history of the disease.
Even though November 1st has passed, you still have time to register for Movember. Visit https://www.movember.com/us/register/ for more information. Women, you can support the effort by being a “Mo Sista” – encouraging the men in your life to get involved, registering yourself as a supporter at www.movember.com, and by spreading the word about the importance of men taking care of their health.
American Cancer Society
National Institutes of Health