You likely noticed an increase in facial hair recently. No, the men in your life are not growing a winter coat, but instead partaking in a charity event that has quickly spread across the globe.

Men first started putting their razors away for the month of November in Australia, where the Movember Foundation encouraged men to, “change the face of men’s health.” Movember aims to use men’s mustaches to bring awareness to early cancer detection; diagnosis and effective treatment; and ultimately reduce the overall number of preventable death among men. The month-long event, which started in 1999, officially made its way to America in 2006.

There are many variations of the original “Movember,” including American Cancer Society’s “No Shave November,” which started as a Facebook campaign in 2009. Regardless the moniker, the mission is still the same – raise awareness about cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) 2016 will bring an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases resulting in 595,690 cancer deaths in the US. With numbers like that, cancer is obviously an important men’s health issue.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United State and cigarette smoking is the most prevalent preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S. It is no secret that cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer, but did you know concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in second hand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers? Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke are two of the most important things you can do to lower your risk of cancer.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among men, so it is very likely someone in your life has been affected by the disease. According the ACS, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Current scientific evidence provides no clear ways to prevent prostate cancer. In general, physicians recommend that men with an average risk of prostate cancer make choices that benefit their overall health. The recommendations are the tried and true of health: eat more fats from plants than animals; increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you consume daily; eat fish; if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation; and exercise most days of the week. It is important to discuss your risk factors for prostate cancer with your physician. For men with a very high risk of prostate cancer, discuss with your physician other options to reduce your risk.

Colon Cancer

Currently, the best option for preventing colon cancer is regular screening. Through screening, the goal is to find polyps and potentially cancerous growths before they spread. There are several screening options available, each with their own pros and cons. Discuss your colon cancer risk factors with your physician to determine what screening options will benefit you most. The CDC recommends colorectal cancer screenings for all adults beginning at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter. Depending on your risk factors and family history, your physician may recommend more frequent testing, or initial testing before age 50, or both. As with all cancers, living a lifestyle of overall health through diet and exercise is the best path for prevention.

Healthy Living

For more than 30 years, the CDC has identified an unhealthy lifestyle, including unhealthy diet, excess weight, and lack of physical activity, as the second most prevalent preventable cause of disease and death in the US. While rates of smoking have steadily decreased since the 1960s, the rate of obesity is rapidly increasing. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle can increase your chances of all cancers. Specifically, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer are directly associated with overweight men. Living a lifestyle of overall health has many benefits, not just related to cancer, and can easily be implemented with a little dedication.

Sun Safety

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting a wide spectrum of ages in both men and women. There are three types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are highly curable and do not result in as many deaths as the more dangerous melanoma. Overall, males have higher rates of melanoma than women. A few sunburns are all your body needs to increase your risk of skin cancer. Whether you tan indoors or outdoors, the risk of skin cancer is still high.

Melanoma is less commonly diagnosed, but is much more serious than other types of skin cancer. Practicing sun safety is the best way to prevent skin cancer – seek shade or go indoors during midday hours; wear long sleeves and long pants; use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher; and wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. There are many light, daily use sunscreens currently on the market made specifically for men.

For more information about Movember, visit the US Movember Foundation website. For more information about No Shave November, visit the American Cancer Society's website.

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