It started in Australia but has now gone global and more than 1.1 million people have taken part worldwide.
The point of it is that it raises money for men’s cancer charities - £10.3 million last year - and it encourages men to overcome their sensitivities about talking about their health, particularly about embarrassing bits like their prostate gland and testicles.
To take part
Once you’ve registered online at www.Movember.com you can sign up for sponsored events, including various 5km runs, in London, Brighton, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff.
Grow a moustache
Men (known as ‘mobros’) can experiment with different moustache styles - maybe a WW2 Squadron Leader handlebar, a 1940’s thin spiv style, a Freddie Mercury or a Tom Selleck tribute tache. The possibilities are endless.
The only rules are that you must begin the month with a clean-shaven face, grow and groom a moustache for the whole month of November and not allow it join to sideburns (apparently it then becomes a beard) or to your chin (it then officially becomes a goatee). You must also conduct yourself “like a true country gentleman”.
Sign up for parties and balls
Mobros can show off their taches by hosting parties or attending charity gala balls. Their supporters (mosistas) can draw a moustache on with a marker pen or wear a stick-on falsie if they want to join in too.
Growing a moustache might seem a silly thing to do - okay, it is a silly thing to do but it helps to draw attention to men’s health, which is a serious business.
The charity ‘Men’s Health Forum’ found one in five (22 per cent) of men in England and Wales die before the age of 65; 42 per cent before 75. By contrast, only 13 per cent of women die before 65 and 26 per cent before 75.
In total, 100,000 men are dying prematurely (before 75 years) each year, compared to about 66,000 women.
Other health statistics bear this out:
- The rate of cancer diagnoses in men is considerably higher than the rate in women. In every 100,000 men, 417 cases will be diagnosed, compared to 366 cases per 100,000 females.
- One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. In 2008, 37,051 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed and 10,168 men died.
- Testicular cancer in the UK affects younger men between the ages of 20 and 50. 1,990 men were diagnosed with the disease in 2007.
- Only 26 per cent of men go to their GPs for regular check-ups.
But, hey, we can change it
The organisers of ‘Movember’ want to change men’s attitudes towards their health and encourage them to talk about it more openly - particularly cancers affecting men such as prostate and testicular cancer. All the money raised in the UK goes towards funding research for the Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research.
‘Movember’ organisers also want to encourage men to be more proactive about seeking help for any health problems they have and to live a healthier lifestyle.
They advise men to:
- Book an annual check-up and go to see their GP promptly if they have a health problem
- Give up smoking
- Get fit and active - 30 minutes’ exercise a day
- Eat a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, high in fibre, low in saturated fat and including oily fish
- Drink alcohol in moderation - stick to less than 21 units of alcohol a week and avoid binge drinking (a standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits)
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Find out if you have a family history of certain diseases, including bowel cancer and heart disease.
Not so funny
Cancer charities say too many men effectively die of embarrassment because they don’t go to their doctor regularly or early enough in the course of a serious illness. So if growing a few dozen hairs above your lip can help change this, why not give it a go?
And don’t forget - when you’ve grown a new tache, send us your pictures via our blogger, twitter and facebook page.
If you have any questions about cancer and other illnesses affecting men, then you can send a question to our panel of experts.
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