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Movember, November with Mustaches: Men's Health Month




What Is Movember?


Movember is an international campaign aimed at raising awareness and promoting men's health. It all began in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, when three friends sat down at a pub and, over a beer, discussed the resurgence of outdated trends that had become popular again over time.



A post from Lebubè's Instagram profile giving the definition of Movember, the men's health awareness month.

Luke Slattery and the brothers Adam and Travis Garone (who dubbed themselves "Mo Bros", short for "Moustache Brothers") challenged each other to a rather iconic competition: at the end of October, they decided to shave off their beards and mustaches completely and grow them back. After 30 days, they would then declare the Best and Worst Mustache of the month.


From this, the idea later emerged to launch a prevention program very similar to the one for breast cancer (Pink October, which I talked about in this article): what started as a game transformed into a fun and internationally widespread opportunity to raise funds and raise awareness about often overlooked issues: prostate and testicular cancer and suicide among men.




What are Prostate Cancer and Testicular Cancer, and How Can They Be Prevented?


Prostate cancer originates in the male gland responsible for producing seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. It is one of the most common cancers among men.


Testicular cancer, on the other hand, is less common but should not be underestimated. It involves the growth of cells within the testicles, which function to generate sperm and testosterone.


Blood sugar meter and syringe, tools used in monitoring PSA levels, aiding men in early detection of prostate and testicular cancer.

According to a report from the American Cancer Society, in 2023 alone, there were approximately 288,300 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States, with about 34,700 deaths attributed to the same cause. The number of prostate cancers diagnosed each year decreased significantly from 2007 to 2014, unfortunately coinciding with fewer men undergoing screening. However, since 2014, the incidence rate has increased by approximately 3% per year overall and about 5% per year for advanced-stage cancer. On average, 1 in 8 men may be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The mortality rate for prostate cancer decreased by about half from 1993 to 2013, likely due to early diagnosis and advances in treatment. However, the rate of decline has since slowed, likely reflecting an increase in late-stage diagnoses.


According again to the American Cancer Society, in 2023, there were about 9,190 new cases of testicular cancer and approximately 470 deaths in the United States. The incidence rate of testicular cancer has been increasing in the United States and many other countries for several decades, although there has been a recent slowdown. Testicular cancer is not common, with approximately 1 in 250 males developing testicular cancer. Since it can usually be successfully treated, the risk of mortality is very low, approximately 1 in 5,000.


Preventing prostate and testicular cancer is not impossible. However, taking some precautions can reduce the risk:


  • Self-examination.

  • Regular checks of the prostate and testicles.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and physical activity.

  • Quitting smoking.



Who Is at Higher Risk?


Several factors can increase the risk of prostate cancer (Mayo Clinic) and testicular cancer (Mayo Clinic), but any man can potentially develop these diseases. The shared risk factors for both conditions include:


Age:

Prostate cancer tends to develop primarily in males over the age of 50, while testicular cancer typically affects those between 15 and 45 years old.

Ethnicity:

Family history:


Additional risk factors for both types of cancer can include dietary imbalances, such as obesity, as well as conditions like cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), genetic factors, and smoking.



Symptoms and Treatment of Prostate and Testicular Cancer


According to Mayo Clinic, some of the main symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate, especially at night.

  • Weak or intermittent urine flow.

  • Pain or burning during urination.

  • Urinary incontinence.

  • Fecal incontinence.

  • Painful ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

  • Blood in semen or urine.

  • Pain in the lower back, hip, or chest.

According to Cleveland Clinic, signs of testicular cancer can include:

  • Swelling or sudden fluid accumulation in the scrotum.

  • A lump or swelling in one of the testicles.

  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.

  • Pain in the groin or lower abdomen.

  • Pain or discomfort in the scrotum or one testicle.

  • A shrinking testicle.

Just as with breast cancer, if you notice these warning signs, the first thing to do is inform your doctor and undergo specific tests for further evaluation. If (unfortunately) the diagnosis is cancer, there are various ways to treat it, including periodic monitoring (not so much to eradicate the disease but primarily to alleviate symptoms), chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, focal therapies, and surgical procedures (prostatectomy and orchiectomy). The appropriate treatment varies from patient to patient and should only be determined by a qualified medical professional. It's important to emphasize this point: do not believe, for any reason, in fake news or charlatans who try to take your money by convincing you that lemons, baking soda, or scorpion venom can lead to a cure. This is not the case!

Men's November: The Importance of Men’s Physical and Mental Health


Every day, life presents us with obstacles and problems that, in our eyes, seem tougher than we could bear. They appear as burdens we carry on our shoulders, much like Atlas, who was forced to hold up the Earth and the entire celestial vault. Often, we don't know how to face them, and many times, we're uncertain if there is a solution at all. This doubt can lead each of us into a dark and deep abyss that can be fatal.


A man seated on a couch, with a young man, reflecting on men's mental health issues, representing the importance of addressing mental health in men

According to Healthy Peers, men represent 75% of suicides, and worldwide, every minute, a man dies by suicide. The most significant concern is society itself, a society that propagates a stereotyped form of masculinity in which a real man does not suffer from mental disorders or depression, does not cry, and does not need to ask for help in times of crisis... In fact, he should be ashamed if such a thing were to happen (remember the article on toxic masculinity? Vicky discussed it here).

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Just as we take care of cancer, pneumonia, or even a common fever, we must also take care of ourselves and our minds. The initial thoughts of suicide should never be underestimated or ignored.

How to Try to Prevent Suicide?


Preventing suicide is not impossible, much like preventing cancer. According to The Wom, there are more or less explicit symptoms that should set off an alarm bell within us:

  • Suicidal ideation, thinking, talking, or even wishing for suicide.

  • Substance abuse.

  • Lack of a sense of purpose in life.

  • Anger and outbursts of rage.

  • Feeling trapped.

  • Desperation, loss of hope and optimism.

  • Isolation.

  • Anxiety, restlessness, irritability, agitation.

  • Unusual recklessness.

  • Drastic mood changes.

  • Searching online for ways to die.

  • Talking about helplessness or worthlessness.

  • A sudden improvement in the quality of life, becoming suddenly happier and calmer.

  • Loss of interest in things one used to enjoy.

  • Visiting or calling loved ones, especially after a long absence.

  • Giving away belongings, such as valuable items.

A serious man with a mustache grown for Movember, promoting men's health and prostate cancer awareness

In these cases, the best treatment is listening, primarily from a loved one (family or friends) and secondarily from a specialist who can also provide personalized therapies.


Movember also believes that we can take social action by:

  • Developing models that contribute to improving men's mental health and well-being.

  • Challenging the negative aspects of masculinity and its impact on mental health.

  • Encouraging men to stay connected with friends and family.

  • Bringing the discussion about men’s mental health into the public sphere, outside of the healthcare system, and breaking down the taboo associated with it.



Which Initiatives are There during Movember?

A reel by Lebubè and Lenny Wolff giving the definition of Movember, month dedicated to prostate and testicular cancer and men's mental health.

Movember promotes two major initiatives:


Running or walking 60 km throughout the month:

This initiative is aimed at raising awareness about the 60 men who die by suicide every hour worldwide. Participants are encouraged to run or walk a total of 60 kilometers during the month of November.

Growing mustaches according to specific styles:


However, any project that aims to raise awareness and prevent men's health issues is more than welcome. The key is to see an increasing number of men participating, making as many donations as possible (especially for research purposes), and spreading awareness about prostate and testicular cancer and male suicide.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning behind Movember?


Movember is a campaign aimed at raising awareness about men's health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's mental health. It encourages men to grow mustaches during November to spark conversations and promote these important health topics.



What are Movember rules?


The Movember rules include registering at Movember.com, shaving one's face on November 1st, growing and grooming a mustache throughout November, following specific mustache styles, and actively participating in conversations about men's health goals while raising funds.



Why do men grow a mustache in November?


Men grow mustaches in November as part of the Movember campaign to draw attention to men's health issues and initiate discussions about prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's mental health.



What is the Movember awareness month?


The Movember awareness month is November, during which the Movember campaign takes place. It is a month dedicated to raising awareness about men's health and encouraging men to grow mustaches to support the cause.



When did Movember start?


Movember began in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, when a group of friends decided to grow mustaches for charity to raise awareness about men's health issues. It has since grown into a global campaign.



Is November for men’s mental health?


Yes, November, particularly through the Movember campaign, also focuses on men's mental health awareness, aiming to break down stereotypes and encourage men to seek help for mental health challenges.



What are the risk factors associated with prostate and testicular cancer?


Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, ethnicity, family history, and lifestyle factors. For testicular cancer, risk factors include age, family history, and certain medical conditions like cryptorchidism.



What are the common symptoms of prostate and testicular cancer?


Common symptoms of prostate cancer can include frequent or urgent urination, weak urine flow, pain during urination, and blood in semen or urine. Symptoms of testicular cancer can include testicular lumps, swelling, discomfort, and pain.



How can men reduce their risk of prostate and testicular cancer?


Men can reduce their risk of these cancers by regular check-ups, self-examination, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and physical activity, and avoiding smoking.



What are common mental health issues in men?


Common mental health issues in men include depression, anxiety, and a reluctance to seek help due to societal pressures and stereotypes about masculinity.



What are the warning signs of potential mental health challenges in men?


Warning signs of mental health challenges in men can include suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, anger, isolation, anxiety, and mood changes.



How does Movember address the issue of men's mental health?


Movember addresses men's mental health by challenging harmful stereotypes of masculinity, encouraging men to seek help, promoting open conversations about mental health, and raising funds for mental health initiatives.



What role does Movember play in raising awareness about men's suicide?


Movember plays a significant role in raising awareness about men's suicide by promoting discussions about mental health, encouraging men to seek help, and supporting initiatives aimed at preventing suicide among men.



How to get involved in Movember?


To get involved in Movember, one can register on the Movember website, shave their face on November 1st, grow a mustache, follow the campaign's rules, participate in fundraising activities, and engage in conversations about men's health.


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