Have you noticed the men in your life sprouting new facial hair?

They might be celebrating Movember, an annual event that occurs each year in November.

Since 2004, men have grown mustaches in November to help bring awareness to important male health issues such as prostate cancer.

I love the message and the motivation behind this event. The mustaches are more than just a fashion statement; they are a collective way for men to bring attention to serious and life-threatening conditions in a way that speaks to other men — with humor, levity, and even a bit of competition (each year, men compete to see who can grow the most luxurious ’stache).

Movember also is very important because the truth is that most men are unaware of the risks of prostate cancer.

A recent study conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Janssen Biotech Inc shows it helped to illuminate the extent of this misinformation. Consider the following:

Men greatly underestimate their risk of prostate cancer. Even though one in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, almost two-thirds of men (63 percent) think it is unlikely they will ever be diagnosed with prostate cancer. This disparity between men’s risk of cancer and their perceived cancer helps to drive home the message that we need more awareness and education when it comes to this disease.

Men aren’t aware of the warning signs of prostate cancer. When it comes to identifying symptoms, an overwhelming majority of men in the survey (93 percent) could not recognize at least two of the symptoms of prostate cancer. (Symptoms of prostate cancer can include urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, frequent lower back pain, infertility, swelling of the legs and feet and weight gain).

Men don’t know the risk factors associated with prostate cancer. Less than half of the men in the survey could identify the risk factors associated with prostate cancer, including the fact that family history, ethnicity and genetics all can play a role in prostate cancer risk. Ignorance of these factors could be dangerous, because if a man has a history of prostate cancer in his family, he needs to pay special care to possible symptoms and talk to his doctor about his increased risk.

Men don’t realize that their lifestyle could impact their risk of prostate cancer. Living a healthy lifestyle can help to decrease a man’s risk of prostate cancer, yet more than 80 percent of men in the survey didn’t realize the importance of physical activity in decreasing prostate cancer risk, and only 33 percent of men knew that a high fat diet could increase their risk for developing prostate cancer. If more men know about the link between a healthy lifestyle and a decreased risk of prostate cancer, it might give them the encouragement they need to hit the gym or the motivation they need to opt for a low-fat turkey burger. Education equals empowerment, particularly when it comes to taking charge of one’s health.

Although these findings are alarming, the good news is that events like Movember help to empower and educate men. And it’s also important to note that more frequent ejaculation could help men to lower their risk of prostate cancer. That’s just another reason to stay dedicated to having passionate and frequent sex!

Source: Chicago Sun-Times