The Movember movement emerged back in 2003, in Australia. This initiative rehabilitated proudly wearing a moustache in the pursuit of a cause dear to male health: prostate cancer.
The English expression "Movember" is the result of the agglutination of 'moustache' and 'November'. In November, to raise public awareness, men are asked to grow their moustache and women to wear a false moustache as an accessory in special prostate cancer awareness and prevention events.
The Movember Foundation, which spearheads the initiative, also work to raise awareness of other male health problems, such as testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. The movement has gained a lot of traction in Europe, namely in the United Kingdom. In recent years Portugal has joined, with several brands sponsoring the social responsibility initiatives related to the movement.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men worldwide and. In Portugal, according to data from the Global Cancer Observatory (Globocan) dated 2018, it's the most common cancer among men, followed by colorectal cancer.
This movement seeks to demystify fears and myths that still exist around screening tests, alerting men to the importance of carrying out periodic testing, routine consultations and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Prostate carcinoma is the most frequently diagnosed malignant tumour in men over 50 years of age. Regular examination is recommended after the age of 45. In Europe, approximately 650 000 new cases are diagnosed annually.
Usually, the early stages of cancer are silent and cause no symptoms, hence the importance of screening: if the patient is waiting for signs of the disease to show to see a doctor, it may be too late.
There is currently no other type of scientifically proven prevention. As such, early screening - a rectal exam and a laboratory test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - is the only effective measure that can make a difference.
"A movement for Movember" and other campaigns
The Movember Foundation develops several campaigns for participation, awareness and fundraising.
The best known is the classic moustache campaign, in which, by registering people in an app, the Foundation can finance innovative projects in mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer prevention. There have been 1250 projects so far, according to Foundation data.
There is also "A movement for Movember", which asks you to walk or run a total of 60 km throughout the month, remembering the 60 lives lost to suicide every hour, worldwide. "Organize a Moment" is another proposal that asks participants to bring a team together and do something fun and easy, virtually or in person. The idea is to have fun for a good cause and show it to the community. "MO, your way" is another campaign that asks participants to create a physical challenge and to share it. The Foundation is also partner to a large event entitled "The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride": it's a motorcycle tour that reaches more than 700 cities across the world. The participants are asked to dress fancy to support noble causes, such as men's health. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the organization aks riders to go solo and connect with the community through social networks.
Aaron Rodgers: an athlete who sticks to his moustache
Aaron Rodgers, the American football player, born in California in 1983, is yet another global sports star to join the Movember movement annually, helping give visibility to the cause. The star of the National Football League (NFL) and the Green Bay Packers has been part of this movement for many years, showing off with creative and rustling whiskers, reminiscent of the fashion in vogue in past decades. Rodgers played American football at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was quickly recognized for several records, including the lowest rate of attempted pass interceptions, 1.43%. He is now considered one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
The Foundation has a wide range of ambassadors for the cause, be it in sports, communications or the arts. From the sporting world, you might recognize names such as Keegan Hipgrave, Rugby League player, Gold Coast Titans; Archie Thompson, Fox Sports commentator; AFL player Brayden Crossley, Gold Coast Suns FC; Damon Kelly, Olympic weightlifter; AFL player Kamdyn McIntosh, Richmond FC; A-League player Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Newcastle Jets; Tara Rushton, Fox Sports commentator; and Tia-Clair Toomey, a weightlifter and CrossFit games athlete.
Many people are dying ahead of time. Therefore, this movement asks people to be aware of these men's health issues and participate, because simple participation can help them to change and save lives. With a moustache style guide available, which anyone can get to on the Internet, the Foundation wants to motivate everyone to wear a real, fake, unbalanced, eccentric or funny moustache, big or small: those will be faces that raise funds and awareness for change in male health.