Explaining the Mustache in Movember

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Moustache in MovemberWhenever my facial hair starts to grow and I don’t have time to shave, I call that a busy week.

Lately, I’ve been seeing other men with facial hair, especially mustaches. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why so many men are sporting mustaches. I thought it was because people weren’t ready to say goodbye to their Halloween costumes!

After a little investigation I found out all these men are growing mustaches for a good cause, and it’s called Movember…

 What Is Movember?

November is the official month for Movember, it conveniently combines the word “mustache” and the month “November”. But what is Movember all about anyway?

It all began in 2003 when a group of friends from Melbourne, Australia had decided to grow mustaches for the 30 days of November in support of men’s health issues. In total, 30 men raised money for prostate cancer. The following year, 450 men raised $43,000.

Today, the global movement of Movember is the ribbon for men’s health, similar to what wearing pink ribbons does for breast cancer awareness. Movember is often likened to prostate health; however, it has grown to support more than just that. It is thought that over 5 million people are supporting the men’s health movement. What does Movember support, exactly?

The Movember Foundation has funded over 1,000 projects geared to improve men’s health, including four key issues: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, impaired mental health, and lack of physical activity. Here is a little more information about the Movember men’s health issues.

Movember and Prostate Cancer

The Movember mustache movement, as mentioned earlier, began as a way to support men’s health issues. Movember proceeds ended up funding research through the University of Michigan that recognized over 25 different types of prostate cancer!

The prostate is that walnut-sized donut-shaped gland found under the urinary bladder, and it surrounds the urethra in men. An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), will commonly affect older men. In this case, the prostate will become inflamed and wrap around the urethra. An enlarged prostate may be a sign of prostate cancer. In both conditions, men experience various problems with urination, including difficulty starting or holding urination, the inability to urinate, interrupted or weak urine stream, and the need to urinate frequently, especially at night. Prostate cancer also produces symptoms such as burning or painful urination, painful ejaculation, difficulty in having an erection, blood in semen or urine, and frequent stiffness or pain in the hips, lower back, or upper thighs.

Prostate cancer is considered the second most common cancer in men around the world with 1.1 million new cases in 2012. In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimated 220,800 new estimated prostate cancer cases, leading to 25,540 deaths. A family history of prostate cancer, vitamin D deficiency, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, the enzyme PRSS3, daily anti-inflammatory medication use, and diets high in dairy, red meat, and saturated fat are linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Certain hormones can also stimulate prostate cancer, including testosterone, estrogen, and prolactin.

Movember and Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is considered the most common cancer that affects men between the ages of 15 and 35. Although there are about 8,000 cases every year, there are only about 400 deaths. In other words, 95% of those diagnosed with testicular cancer have a good outcome. Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the testicle cells inside the scrotum, and it spreads to other parts of the body. It is often first detected when swelling or a lump is discovered in a testicle.

Other symptoms associated with testicular cancer include testicular enlargement, testicular discomfort or pain, a fluid collection in the scrotum, and aches in the abdomen, groin, and back. Risk factors associated with testicular cancer include a history of testicular cancer, men born with a hernia in the groin area, congenital abnormalities of the testicles, kidneys, or penis, mumps orchitis, or the development of an abnormal testicular condition such as Klinefelter’s syndrome. Cryptorchidism, or undescended testicle, is another risk factor of testicular cancer, and it occurs when a testicle hasn’t moved down after a male is born.

The Movember movement is also connected with Livestrong—founded by Lance Armstrong, who has also gone through testicular cancer.

Poor Mental Health

Mental health problems range from a variety of conditions that affect behavior, thinking, and mood. Mental illness may include anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors, and schizophrenia. About 25% of American adults experience mental health problems. Suicide in men is also often called a “silent epidemic.”

In 2005, the suicide rate for American white men between the ages of 45 and 49 was considered higher than men under the age of 40 and between 70 and 74-years-old. Men may not be aware when they are experiencing problems with mental health. They may also be uncomfortable seeking help for the condition. Symptoms associated with anxiety and depression include constant worry, trembling, restlessness and tension, heart palpitations, diarrhea, sweaty palms, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, high blood pressure, mood swings, insomnia, avoidance of social situations, and frequent thoughts of suicide.

Root causes of mental illness include environmental toxins and heavy metal toxicity, candida overgrowth, unresolved emotional issues, insomnia and other sleep disturbances, and certain prescription medications like blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, or antidepressants.

Various pre-existing conditions also relate with depression including anemia, sleep apnea, low adrenal function, and thyroid problems. Alcohol abuse, high caffeine intake, nicotine intake, stress, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise are all contributing factors of mental illness. Needless to say, anxiety or being depressed are not simple disorders. There are several nutrient deficiencies related to mental health issues, including low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, magnesium and calcium, selenium, chromium, zinc, the amino acid theanine, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and B vitamins.

Physical Inactivity in Men

Physical inactivity has a major impact on a person’s health, even more than you may realize. Less active people are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, coronary heart disease, obesity and certain cancers. People who are not physically active may also have unhealthy habits such as a sedentary lifestyle or excessive TV watching of four or more hours daily.

It is thought that only about half of American men meet the recommendations of physical activity. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults require a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity every day, along with two days or more of weight training. Although women are thought to be more physically inactive than men, awareness of physical activity is important since lack of exercise can impact many health issues.

How to Prevent Men’s Health Issues

Raising millions of dollars to support a cause is great, but prevention is just as important. A combination of natural methods can help men regain balance and alleviate the symptoms related to many of the more devastating men’s health problems. Here are four things that can help prevent men’s health problems:

1. Proper diet

A poor diet plays a factor in many health conditions related to the Movember movement, including mental disorders, cancers, and obesity. A good place to start is to discover foods that may be contributing to inflammation in the body, especially food allergies or sensitivities. Testing methods include the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) blood test, a biomeridian test, meridian stress assessment test, a food elimination diet, and a bioenergetic analysis.

Allergy and sensitivity testing is especially useful since many people with mental illness suffer from hidden food allergies. Cancer and mental illness prevention would also include a diet that is free from hydrogenated, trans, and saturated fats. Processed meat, grilled red meat, hamburgers, and milk are also foods that increase the risk of prostate cancer. Alcohol is also a depressant, and it should be limited.

Overall the diet should be anti-inflammatory and low on the glycemic index (GI). The Mediterranean diet is a good example of an anti-inflammatory diet that is high in healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts. It also contains smaller amounts of dairy, meat, and alcohol. A low GI diet will contain foods with a GI of 55 or less, which will increase blood sugar levels slowly. Obesity is a root cause of diabetes and prostate cancer. The diet should be high in green leafy vegetables and other veggies high in antioxidants to help prevent cancer and other diseases.

2. Adequate exercise and movement

When it comes to exercise and men’s health, stress reduction and physical activity should go hand in hand. If you are just getting back into physical activity, it may help to start slow when making exercise part of your routine. For example, a 30-minute walk can be a good place to begin. The goal is to start getting active again.

Taking exercise classes could be the next step. For instance, yoga, tai chi, and qigong classes will not just keep you active, but they will also help prevent mental illness. When you get into the routine of exercising, you can add a light weight-lifting training program. A personal trainer can help you understand how to exercise the right way without causing harm to the body.

3. Supplements than can help

There are a variety of supplements that can prevent a variety of mental health and cancer-related issues. For instance, some of the better supplements for prostate health include saw palmetto, rye grass pollen extract, selenium, vitamin E, beta-sitosterol, Lycopene, vitamin D, green tea, and Pygeum africanum. As for mental health, various supplements should be considered including 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and a vitamin B complex formula. Passionflower, chamomile, and valerian can also help keep men calm and relaxed, especially when life can get stressful. Omega-3 fatty acid sources such as ground flaxseed, and vitamin D are both considered adequate preventative methods against mental illness and prostate cancer.

4. Homeopathic remedies for men’s health

Homeopathic remedies should also be considered in the prevention of men’s health issues. For instance, certain remedies are useful for prostate health and mental health problems, including staphysagria, pulsatilla, ignatia, and lycopodium. Sabal serrulata is also useful for prostate enlargement. It is best to consult with a certified homeopath to help with an approach that focuses on the mental, emotional, and physical symptoms appropriate to the individual.

How to Support Movember

Movember has certainly created a strong awareness of men’s health issues. The rules for Movember are simple:

  • Register for the movement at https://us.movember.com/?home, and begin the month clean-shaven.
  • Grow and groom your mustache for the entire month of November.
  • You cannot grow a beard.
  • Your chin facial hair cannot connect to your handlebar mustache.
  • Women can also take part by signing up as team captains to help encourage men to take action in their health.
  • Other than that, you are all set to support a good cause and bring men’s health issues to the forefront.

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Bell, P., “What Is Movember And What Are The Rules?” Huffington Post Lifestyle web site, last updated Oct. 28, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/24/movember-2013-rules-why-get-involved_n_4154262.html, last accessed November 3, 2015.
“Dear men, here’s why Movember is more than just a month of unkept facial hair,” India Today Group web site, November 2, 2015; http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/dear-men-heres-why-movember-is-more-than-just-a-month-of-unkept-facial-hair/1/513976.html.