What You Need to Know about No-Shave November and Men’s Cancer

mustacheEvery November, men all over the world participate in a month-long challenge called “No-Shave November” or “Movember,” where they’re supposed to let their beards and moustaches grow for the whole month. While this tradition is quickly becoming popular, there is actually a heroic reason behind the movement.

The Beginnings: Movember Foundation

This tradition actually began in Australia in 2003. The movement was then called “Movember,” in reference for the moustache (“mo”) and November. Friends Travis Garone and Luke Slattery started the Movember Foundation with 30 “Mo Bros” who were willing to grow their moustaches for a good cause. The following year, they had 480 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas.  They were able to raise $40,851 and they also funded 6 men’s health projects in the same year. From then on, the group whose goal is to “change the face of men’s health,” was able to raise at least $710 million since its inception, and were able to fund 1,200 men’s health projects since then. Today, it is ranked as the 55th of the Top 500 NGOs in the world by NGO Advisor. It is also the most innovative non-for-profit organization in Australia.

How does Movember work, exactly? Well, men are encouraged not to shave their moustaches for a month and to donate the amount they saved in personal grooming to the foundation. In turn, the Foundation uses the money to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and reduce the number of preventable deaths that occurred because of misinformation.

No-Shave November

In 2009, the Chicagoland Hill family decided to honor their father, Matthew Hill, who died in 2007 from colon cancer, by starting No-Shave November. It encourages men and women to grow their hair (including body hair) and to donate the amount they saved towards cancer prevention.

It also encourages members to sign up and to get their own page to raise funds. This year, it was able to raise $1,987,946 from 33,635 members. It also funded several programs from reputable organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, among others.

Both charities are registered as non-profit organizations.

What’s next?

If you’re considering which charity to donate to, remember that the tradition goes deeper than just simply not shaving your beard or mustache. Rather, both organizations aim to spread awareness about men’s health, particularly in regards to testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and depression, among others.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “Nearly half of all men and a little more than one-third of all women in the United States will have cancer during their lifetimes.” Despite this, there seems to be more calls for awareness of breast cancer and other forms of cancer, than those that afflict men. For this reason, both the Movember Foundation and the No-Shave November Foundation are bridging great gaps in terms of information dissemination and spreading awareness about cancer, so that more and more men would be tested earlier.

Men’s Cancers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the three most common cancers among men are prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Of these three cancers, lung cancer has the highest mortality rate, followed by prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and liver cancer.

On the other hand, the ACS adds skin cancer to the most common kinds of cancer in men. Here are what you need to know about these kinds of cancer:

  • Prostate Cancer – Majority of prostate cancer incidence are found in men over the age of 65. It is recommended that at the age of 45 to 50, men should already consider getting tested for the disease, particularly if a close relative (such as a brother or a father) had prostate cancer. There are several tests that can be conducted to determine if you have prostate cancer, the most common of which is the PSA test. However, experts warn that testing is not for everyone, as sometimes the test can come out negative even though you already have prostate cancer, and vice versa. If there is a risk of prostate cancer in the family, you are encouraged to be consult with your physician as soon as possible for possible screening.
  • Colon Cancer – Similar with prostate cancer, cancers of the colon and rectum (or colorectal cancer) are commonly found in people above the age of 50. Those who have inflammatory bowel disease or who have polyps in their rectum or colon are also susceptible to the disease, particularly if they have a family history of the cancer. There are also several risk factors to contacting colon cancer, particularly in lifestyle choices such as unhealthy diet and smoking. As with prostate cancer, there are several tests that can lead to the early detection of colon cancer.
  • Lung Cancer – A common cancer among smokers, it is thought that 8 out of 10 lung cancer mortalities are direct consequences of smoking. However, even non-smokers can get lung cancer. For smokers who are at high risk of getting the disease, they should talk to their physicians about quitting and getting CT scans.
  • Skin Cancer – Finally, this is among the common kinds of cancer particularly in people with fair skin. It is recommended that those who are at high risk of getting skin cancer (such as if they have close relatives who have the disease, should be screened.

Majority of these cancers can be avoided through a lifestyle overhaul, such as quitting smoking, eating healthier meals, exercising, and putting on sunblock. If there is a family history of cancer, then it would be a wise decision to be tested while it is still early, so that if there is a possibility of cancer then you can eradicate it earlier.

Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg for men’s cancers and diseases. Therefore, the help being provided by organizations such as Movember Foundation and No-Shave November Foundation are invaluable when it comes to educating men that their health should come first – and not their beards.