Gents, it’s time to grow the mustache of your choice! Handlebar? Push Broom? The Fu Manchu? The choices are endless! But the reason is serious: Movember is upon us. Also know as No-shave November or Moustache November, Movember (a fusion of moustache and November) is designed to help bring awareness to men’s health with moustaches instead of colored ribbon.
Movember got its start in 2004 when a group of 30 men in Australia decided to grow moustaches for 30 days in order to promote awareness about prostate cancer and depression in men. To date, the Movember Foundation, which developed out of that initial idea, has raised 174 million dollars worldwide, and has spread from Australia to South Africa to Europe and North America.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), lifespan is on average five to six years shorter for men than for women. Additionally, men have higher mortality rates from cancer and heart disease. In order to combat statistics like these, The Movember Foundation is emphasizing early cancer detection and diagnosis, as well as promoting effective treatments for diseases like prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, with a goal of reducing the number of premature deaths in men by 25 percent by the year 2030.
Men, what can you do to improve your health?
- Stay connected: Social isolation is known to adversely affect both the physical and mental health of anyone who experiences it. But did you know that social isolation disproportionately affects men. According to the Movember Foundation, “70 percent of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48 percent say they rely on their friends.” In other words, men expect their friends to reach out in times of trouble, but don’t expect to do the same when they, in turn, are in need of support.
- Mental health: Three of every four suicides are men. Men have a more difficultly discussing their feelings than women do. If a man you know is going through a rough time, help him recognize the symptoms of depression. Encourage them to increase the amount of physical exercise that they get. Make sure they take breaks and fit some enjoyable downtime into every day. If they are still struggling mentally, make sure they seek the help of a professional. For more information on ways you can help yourself or a loved one with mental illness please click here: https://us.movember.com/mens-health/mental-health. To speak with someone immediately, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911.
- Be aware of the numbers: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in the U.S. If detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent, if detected late, that survival rate drops to 26 percent. By the age of 50, you should be talking to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it’s the right time to have a PSA test. While the survival rate is 95 percent, testicular cancer is the most common cancer for men in the U.S. ages 15-34. “Get to know” your testicles—learn what feels normal, check them regularly, and go to the doctor if something doesn’t feel right. For more information on prostate cancer, please click here: https://us.movember.com/mens-health/prostate-cancer, to learn more about testicular cancer, please click here: https://us.movember.com/mens-health/testicular-cancer.
- Go to the doctor! It’s important to schedule annual physical exams. Door County Medical Center’s Dr. Brian Matysiak points out that “Men are less likely to see a doctor until there is an issue,” adding that “many common diseases—diabetes, obesity, hypertension, sleep apnea, etc.—do not occur overnight but rather over years. An annual examination is one of the easiest things we can do to bring issues to light before they become problematic. You wouldn’t let your car go without an oil change for 20 years, so why treat your body differently?”
- Keep moving! Exercise is essential to maintaining good physical and mental health! Dr. Matysiak suggests making small changes to your lifestyle that will provide benefits over time. “You don’t have to go out and join a gym,” he says, “instead, there are many little things that you can do: park far away, take the stairs, use a push mower or take a daily walk.”