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Raising Men's Cancer Awareness With a Mustache

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It’s that month again- Movember! And yes, you read it right; it’s not a typo error. The "mo" is for mustache, that under-nose growth that men secretly wish they could grow but are afraid to do so. Because, let’s face it, if you grow a mustache - unless you’re a ball player or fireman - you run the risk of being placed under police surveillance for looking like a pedophile.

You've seen the photos of dear old dad and all of your uncles sporting sleazy 'staches but better judgement has always won out. No more. During November you and your boys can grow mustaches and avoid the nasty jokes and the ridicules. Not only do you get to play out your fantasies, you’ll also be considered heroes in your own right for supporting a worthy cause.

Movember is a yearly November event that aims to raise awareness about men’s health, cancer in particular, specifically testicular and prostate cancer. It's a global fund-raising program that had its roots in Australia and is now being held simultaneously in several countries. Growing a mustache is its trademark feature and signifies a man’s commitment to help by asking people to donate to the cause. You begin the first day of the month with a smooth hair-free face and you don’t shave it off until November 30. And when your friends, kin and acquaintances ask about your mustache, it opens the door for you to tell them about prostate and testicular cancer and ask for a donation.

This technique is almost always irresistible, and the money is spent for a commendable objective. It is used to fund research on these diseases so that treatment may be developed and prevention strategies may be discovered. It's also used to advance education, awareness and treatment programs of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, LiveStrong (Lance Armstrong's foundation) and the Movember Foundation.

Cancer Facts

To get the ball rolling, here are a few facts you should know about men’s health and cancer in general.

Cancers of all types can be acquired through genetic disposition, by behavioral and environmental factors or a combination of both. The first are called hereditary cancer, the second, sporadic cancer and the third are known as familial cancer.

Five to ten percent of cancer cases are hereditary while about 60 percent or more cancer cases are sporadic cancer. Statistics for familial cancer vary, since the genetic and environmental factors are taken into account, causing a variance among different studies. These figures can be good or bad news, depending on the reader’s predisposition to cancer or the absence of such.

All experts and researchers agree on one thing, however. Behavioral factors play a significant role in the development or prevention of the onset of cancer. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol intake, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity contribute in large part to acquiring the disease. Thus, the prevention of cancer is helped by abstaining from cigarettes and alcohol, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low on red meat, fats and chemical preservatives.

Some cancers are peculiar to men only, for the simple reason that males have body parts that are not present in females, such as the prostate and the testes. Since this is the month of Movember, the focus is on prostate and testicular cancer, their basic facts and strategies for their prevention.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men, making up for 24 percent of all cancers in men. The age factor determines the level of risk for getting the disease. It is so rare in men below 40 years old that there are no statistics for it. But after the age of 40, the risk increases very rapidly, so that 65 percent of prostate cancer cases are first diagnosed in men over 65 years old.

Seventy-five percent of prostate cancer cases are sporadic, which means they occur by chance and 20 percent are familial. Only about 5 percent are hereditary prostate cancer, with the gene mutations being passed along the generations.

Aside from living a healthy lifestyle by observing good nutritional practices, exercising and avoiding smoking and alcohol, there are certain food and nutrients that promote prostate health. Among them is lycopene, found in red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Saw palmetto is known as an effective treatment for urinary conditions, including prostatitis, the precursor of prostate cancer. Pomegranates, phytosterols and L-glutamic acid are other organic compounds men can take for their prostate.

Testicular Cancer

If prostate cancer is for older men, testicular cancer is a cancer of the young male. Although rare in men below 20 years old, it is the most common type of cancer in men aged 20 to 44. The good news, if there is any, is that about 90 percent of all testicular cancer cases end with a complete recovery. Only a few risk factors are identified with testicular cancer. Undescended testicles is the most common one, a condition in which one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum before birth.

For a man diagnosed with testicular cancer, it is important to know the consequences of treatment, such as infertility. Sperm-banking may be a wise move to take before undergoing chemotherapy.

There are no known preventive techniques specific for testicular cancer. Healthy living is always recommended, for a longer life that is devoid of chronic and degenerative diseases. Supplements that help promote healthy male organs include ginseng, comfrey, equisetum, honeysuckle and phytolacca.

Support Movember

Whatever your gender, supporting the Movember movement is laudable. Its goal of promoting men’s health ensures women will have the men in their lives for a longer time, and for women it offers a wider field of the male homo sapiens to choose from. Most of all, it guarantees the promulgation of human beings in this earth.

Supporting the movement is trendy, sleazy and easy to do. Simply grow a mustache. There are few instances when men can grow mustaches and be taken seriously, and the next 30 days are our grace period. Today is day one.

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