Movember, Men’s Health Awareness and the Diseases We Should Be Talking About

On average, men die six years earlier than women. While genetic and cultural differences certainly factor into this statistic, men are still facing a dilemma that’s rarely talked about and, in some cases, largely preventable.

Most Americans mark November as the beginning of fall, cooler weather and the holiday season, but it’s also a time committed to men’s health. Movember is more than a frivolous mustache-growing competition – it’s an important, global movement designed to promote healthier, longer lives for men who are losing their lives far too early to deadly diseases.

Gro a Mo, Save a Bro

Movember was established in Australia by the world’s only charity dedicated only to men’s health, the Movember Foundation. Since 2003, the organization has gone global, funded over 1,200 innovative men’s health projects and raised over $500 million for research.

Year round, the Movember Foundation aims to create positive change for men by calling attention to their unique health issues and teaching them how to take better care of themselves. The goal: to reduce premature deaths among men by 25 percent before 2030.

“By engaging with men where they are and understanding what works best, the Foundation is helping make change happen sooner, before it’s too late,” said Owen Sharp, CEO of the Movember Foundation.

While both sexes experience gender-related health concerns, there are some issues that are more prevalent among men – issues that come with very serious consequences.

Unique Threats to Men’s Health

The campaign focuses awareness on three of the most widespread issues:

  • Testicular cancer, the most-common cancer in men under 40, affecting males as young as 15 years old.
  • Prostate cancer, the second-most common cancer in men and killer of 45 men every hour.
  • Mental health, which leads one man to commit suicide every minute. Three out of four suicides are male.

The Foundation’s efforts to eradicate these diseases make a significant difference in the United States, where prostate cancer and testicular cancer are multiplying at an alarming rate.

However, men face more health issues than most people realize. For example, men are less likely than women to regularly visit their physicians. They are at increased risk of heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, they are more likely to adopt riskier occupations, such as firefighting and working at construction sites.

Traditionally male-dominate jobs are a serious concern. The reality is that in many of these occupations, including firefighting and construction, males account for 89 percent of worker deaths. These jobs don’t just put men at risk of fatal injury; they can also lead to fatal diseases. Firefighting and construction work are only two such occupations, but welding, shipbuilding, pipefitting and plumbing also expose more men to asbestos. Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused exclusively by asbestos, is lethal, and tends to affect more men than woman. Males also suffer a much worse survival rate.

Mesothelioma cases, similarly to other cancers found more commonly in men, are growing. As these diseases become more pervasive, Movember becomes a more critical opportunity to stop them in their deadly tracks.

How to Get Involved

Both men and women can promote men’s health this Movember. A mustache is, of course, the most traditional fundraising tool: The Movember Foundation suggests “growing your mo” by starting clean-shaven and avoiding your razor throughout the month. Proceeds from sponsorship go directly to the Foundation’s research projects.

Those who struggle to grow facial hair have a couple of alternatives. You can join a campaign the Movember Foundation calls Move, a 30-day physical fitness challenge to champion both men’s health and your own, or raise funds and draw attention to the cause by hosting a fun social event. You could also simply make a donation.

Above all, men should take steps to become better advocates for their own health. Maintaining a healthy weight and diet, avoiding smoking and drinking, managing stress and becoming more aware of workplace dangers are just a few ways men can live healthier.

For more information on men’s health or to get started on your plans to participate, join Movember on the Foundation’s website.