Published on November 12, 2012

Movember Men’s Health

Health Source Magazine November 2012

Cheryl Lock

Grow a moustache. Save a life.

Men and their health. It’s something they’re not necessarily known to pay much attention to.

Dr. Mark HayesThat’s not just rumor and hearsay, either—even doctors believe it to be true. “I think men don’t like to talk or think about their health very often,” said Mark Hayes, M.D., a cardiologist. “Often it’s the spouse or kids who end up dragging male patients into the doctor’s office to say they’ve been having this or that symptom. Men themselves tend to minimize it—they don’t want to be told something’s wrong, they see it as a sign of weakness.”

That’s why November is so important for men, and for the state of men’s health, in general. The movement now known as Movember, which started from a conversation between a man and his friend all the way in Australia in 2003, has become a worldwide phenomenon, raising millions of dollars for research and, perhaps even more importantly, raising awareness in men about prostate cancer, and what they need to do to stay healthy.

“Movember started in Melbourne when my brother and a mate were chatting about past fashion trends and why the moustache hadn’t come back in style,” said Adam Garone, CEO and co-founder of Movember. “To see if they could bring back the Mo that year 30 guys, myself included, participated in the first ever Movember. Then, in 2004, amazed by the fun we had and the conversations that were sparked, four of the 30 original members came together to make our Mo-growing an annual, official charitable endeavor by adding an important cause—prostate cancer. That year, 450 participants raised $43,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.”

And so the movement has grown, making its way to the U.S. in 2007 with 22,127 participants raising over $740,000.

This year, there will be official Movember campaigns in 21 countries.

And Florida isn’t sitting idly by, just watching. David A. Doward, M.D., is one of the many who will be participating.“This is my first year,” the doctor said. “However, when I researched the organization, I decided to make this an annual event. I’ve even started recruiting other doctors in the group, making it a fun project. The whole idea of having a month where we’re promoting men’s health, is a great one because traditionally men have not been good about taking care of themselves, or about talking about their health. It’s for a great cause.”

And when it comes to Florida, and Jacksonville specifically, Dr. Doward admits that the culture generally tends to make it harder for men to live healthier lives. “Foods here just tend to be more fried and fatty, so I’m always counseling my patients about eating less fried foods and having more vegetables, and it’s common here to stay out in the sun so people’s skin tends to age faster,” he said. “Football is huge here, as well, which of course lends itself to plenty of social drinking. Not everyone falls into this characterization, but you definitely see it here on a fairly large scale.”

Perhaps one other big reason that men haven’t been known to take such great care of themselves is because of advertising. “When it comes to men’s health, there just aren’t that many movements that talk about men’s health,” said Joe Chehade, M.D. “If you look at women, there was a big study, something called the Women’s Health Initiative. There was never a Men’s Health Initiative, never something large scale like Movember. There’s no other major movement for men, like with breast cancer for women.”

These days, women tend to live five to seven years longer than men, and a large part of that may be due to the fact that men don’t tend to get the same preventative healthcare for themselves that women do. “I see a higher percentage of women coming to my clinic than men,” said Dr. Chehade.“Men tend to cancel their appointments and have fewer follow ups.”

Dr. BraddockDr. Todd Braddock is a general family physician at St. Vincent’s Primary Care in Jacksonville, and he couldn’t agree more. “In medicine there’s a saying that if you get the woman in the family as a patient, then you’ll get the whole family. They’ll make the man come to the doctor. Men, unless their wives are telling them to, rarely like to go to the doctor. Myself included.”

It doesn’t take much to live a healthier life, though. Not smoking and watching what you eat is an important place to start, of course, says Dr. Hayes, but there’s more to it than that.“A standard thing I tell my patients is to talk about activity as opposed to exercise,” he said. “Go to Home Depot and park as far away as possible. Take the stairs. If you’re watching the news, march in place. You don’t have to be in sweats and a headband to stay active. Small changes like this are easy to implement and easy to maintain.”

Dr. Doward also likes to remind his male patients to take a holistic approach to their health. “I’m a spine doctor, so I’m a big proponent of pilates and yoga, which are good for flexibility and core strengthening. It’s also really important to have a balance between work and family, and to take time for yourself. When I think of my mission, it’s to be a kick-ass healer, and to enjoy the vitality of life and to share that with others. Wellness is a big part of that.”

For Garone, making men’s health a priority is about making a choice.“Maintaining healthy lifestyle choices, a good diet and getting regular medical check-ups and screen tests can dramatically influence your health,” he said.

If the growth of Movember is any sign, Garone’s message is really spreading.“It’s been staggering,” he said.“We started with 30 Mo Bros in 2003 and by 2011, 855,203 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas raised $126.3 million for men’s health worldwide. Globally, more than 1. 9 million participants have raised $299 million. Essentially no other men’s health movement has really taken off quite the way that Movember has.”

Maybe the fun factor of it has something to do with that success. “I think this is a big start in making men aware.Doing something fun like growing a moustache puts a twist on it and gives men an excuse to think about their health in an integrated way, said Dr. Doward. “I’ve never had a moustache before. I’ve had a goatee, and a little bit of a beard, but for the most part I’m fairly clean-shaven. I’m really looking forward to this.”


To read the full article in Health Source magazine, click here:

(Article Begins on Page 23)


To read the full article in Florida Doctor magazine, click here: (Article Begins on Page 30)

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