During November, Mustaches Save Lives

While November might bring about thoughts of turkey with all the fixings, football games, and leisurely enjoying the last few weeks of fall before the busy holiday season, it’s also a particularly good month to grow a mustache. Why you may ask? To raise awareness for prostate cancer. Still confused? We’ll explain.

Since 2003, the Movember Foundation has sought to raise funds for key men’s health issues. This includes prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity. To date, this international charity organization has accumulated over 5 million participants and raised $650 million in funds from donators all over the world.

But, again, why a mustache? Let’s go back to 2003. The idea for Movember came about when a few mates from Australia sought to, in good fun, bring the mustache back into style. When these newly mustachioed gentlemen noticed how much of a conversation starter a handlebar mustache could be, they realized they had found a powerful tool with which they could do some good. Using the command of their facial hair, the original Movember bros started having conversations with people about men’s health, the lack of awareness for the subject, and the need for more research and medical advances for prostate and testicular cancer. Flash forward to 2015, where there are now over 20 countries that participate in this annual event and numerous health organizations that benefit from this cause.   

Of the money the Movember Foundation has raised since its inception, $30.4 million has been donated directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of the United States, the largest amount of money to be raised for a single organization by the Movember Foundation. 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer over the course of their lifetime. In the United States this year, there will be over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is extremely common, and it is often hard to define the percentage of men that have been affected by hereditary factors. Certain families have gene mutations predisposing them to prostate cancer, and this may lead to many more diagnoses in any given family than what is expected.

It is important to know that hereditary prostate cancer is often seen in families with other hereditary cancers as well. For example, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer. Typically, families with these mutations will show breast and ovarian cancer as well. Men who are at increased risk of having a hereditary form of prostate cancer are likely to have younger-onset and more aggressive prostate cancer than average. 

There are many other genes being researched as possible candidates for hereditary prostate cancer susceptibility. If you feel that there is more than expected amounts of prostate cancer in your family, especially if grouped with younger ages, more aggressive forms, or many other cancers, please seek a genetic counselor in your area who may help you with risk assessment, personalized management guidelines, genetic testing and even eligibility for research studies.

If you can’t or don’t want to grow a mustache, there are plenty of other ways to get involved. Click here to find out how you can participate in Movember and raise awareness for prostate cancer.