By Denise Whitaker
'Movember' is men's health awareness month. It's a global initiative that's now gaining steam and raising millions to help find cures for men's cancers and other health issues.
Originally started by two mates in Australia more than 10 years ago, it's grown from 30 growing mustaches that first year, to more than 4 million in almost two dozen countries.
The original rules still exist, right along with the concept, spelled out by the announcer in a Movember YouTube video: "It's a reality check on your health and a responsibility to take action."
The concept is easy: Men, especially those who don't normally grow facial hair, let their mustaches grow all month long. The more peach fuzz, the better!
"Honestly, it looks terrible for the first several weeks and for some individuals it always looks terrible," says Seattle's Dr. Peter Nelson. "But the point that we get across is that you want people to ask you 'why are you doing this?' "
It's a conversation starter, to get men talking about their health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer plus mental health.
Men who join the movement are called Mo Bros and work to raise money to combat these issues.
"In general, men don't discuss their health issues," Dr. Nelson said.
Dr. Nelson is part of a locally growing team of Mo Bros called MoDawgs, plus he's a prostate cancer researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Last year, the Movember foundation awarded his team a $1.4 million grant to develop strategies to treat advanced prostate cancer.
"Advanced prostate cancer unfortunately is really a deadly disease in which we have no cure," Nelson said. "Once prostate cancer spread out of the prostate an into bones another sites, we can often temporize it for years by cutting off the fuel supply which is testosterone but eventually these cancers all resist."
And so he explained that his team developed several interesting targets and that they're now developing drugs to block to improve treatment.
The project is moving into the second of its 3 years of funding.
And there are many such studies being funded in the United States through the Movember movement. Each country keeps all of the money it's raised. To date, the United States has raised $559 million, since 2003, and some 770 men's health projects have been funded.
So back to that Movember YouTube video, it ends with words on the screen: "Makers, Thinkers, Growers, Doers; changing the face of men's health."
Are you willing to join the fight?