Wednesday, 23 November 2011


“A man without a mustache is like a cup of tea without sugar” - English Proverb

The last two days have been a great rush at work as we were busy finalising a submission to a government department. Thankfully it all got done and it was put in the mail by the due date and on time! Nevertheless, it was quite an arduous task and many people worked very hard for it. Tomorrow and the day after I am attending an education conference here in Melbourne, at which I am presenting a paper. I also attended last year’s conference and it was a very interesting one, so I am looking forward to this.

Many of the men at work are sporting moustaches now, all part of the “Movember” initiative. They join many hundreds of thousands of others during November each year, who are sprouting of moustaches in Australia and around the world. The aim of this is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and depression. On the 1st of November (sorry, that should be Movember!) men register at with a clean-shaven face and then for the rest of the month, these men (known as “Mo Bros”), groom, trim and wax their way into full moustachiosness. Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo growing efforts.

For all 30 days of November, the moustache-sporting Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking advertisements, and through their actions and words raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health. At the end of the month, Mo Bros and their female supporters (known as “Mo Sistas”) celebrate their efforts by either throwing their own Movember party or attending one of the infamous “Gala Partés” held around the world by Movember, for Movember.

Movember began modestly in Melbourne, Australia, and has now grown to become a truly global movement inspiring more than 1.1 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate, with formal campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland. In addition, Movember is aware of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the campaign and men’s health cause right across the globe, from Russia to Dubai, Hong Kong to Antarctica, Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai, and everywhere in between.

Diseases that primarily affect men claim millions of lives around the world annually. Men have a rather poor track record as far as taking care of their health. They tend to not visit the doctor as often as women do and they are more likely to ignore warning signs of disease. As a consequence they present later with disease that could have been treated easier or even cured, were it caught at an earlier stage.

In Australia, around 3,300 men die annually of prostate cancer. This is equal to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually, and yet not as much is heard about this disease as is heard about breast cancer nor do men take the same steps in early diagnosis and treatment of their cancer. Around 20,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in Australian every year. Yet, if detected and treated while still confined to the prostate gland, the cancer can be cured. The diagnostic tests for prostate cancer are the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal examination (DRE). These tests do not give a conclusive diagnosis of cancer but can indicate the presence of prostate cancer.

The older a man is, the greater the risk of prostate cancer occurring, with most cancers being diagnosed in men over the age of 50 years. However, younger men with a history of prostate cancer in their family are at greater risk. What is complicated with prostate cancer is that some cancers grow very slowly and don’t threaten life, whilst others grow more rapidly and do. Diagnosis of the cancer involves making some informed decisions about treatment where the patient takes an active role in his decision on testing, treatment and management of the disease. The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is a major sponsor of Movember.

In Australia, one in six men suffer from depression at any given time. Four times more young men than young women commit suicide. Depression in men is associated with an increased risk of a variety of disorders, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The experience of male depression is complicated by the fact that men are more likely than women to shy away from medical treatment of any kind. Instead of discussing psychological problems, or seeking appropriate treatment, men may turn to alcohol or drugs when they are depressed or anxious.

The statistics for teenage boys and young men are a concern. In the past 30 years, the suicide rate for males aged 15 to 24 years tripled. For older Australian men (aged 65 years and over) the suicide rate remains very high. Risk factors for depression and suicide for this age group include death of a spouse, isolation, physical illness and chronic pain.

Beyondblue is an Australian national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. It promotes research and public education campaigns about depression and supports community initiatives on these disorders. Beyondblue is a major sponsor of Movember in Australia.


  1. I used to think that men not taking care of their medical and health care needs was a function of the bad old days when real men didn't show emotions or admit they needed help.

    Now I have decided men are more likely than women to avoid medical treatment of any kind, because only women are used to having regular and routine medical visits (for obs and gyny). My own husband, a medical doctor, will only be examined if there is bubolic plague, or worse, in our city *sigh*

  2. Nicholas I mentioned the charity on my other blog earlier on in the month. It's fabulous another blogger - and so many miles away - has mentioned it, too! I'll be announcing the amount my son's university has raised later.