Woman and man with basketball

Four Crucial Facts About Movember

Don't let the moustaches obscure the message: the money raised this month is supporting some important men's health initiatives.


The season is upon us, and I don’t mean red cups at Starbucks.  I’m talking about that month of the year when men give in to their facial hair and proudly show off their ‘stache: Movember.

More and more though, I feel like these glorious moustaches are obscuring the Movember message, which is of course, awareness and research into men’s health.  So let’s take a look at some of the fabulous Canadian research supported by funds raised through Movember and remember why we grow the mo.

1 in 8 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

30-50% of prostate cancer patients will experience relapse despite image-guided radiotherapy or radical prostatectomy.  Doctors do their best to determine when more aggressive treatment is needed, but current indicators are imprecise.  A team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Bristow from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have developed a new test to predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer based on pre-treatment biopsy.

They found that prostate cancers can be classified into one of four groups based on genetic subtype.  This genetic subtype was better at predicting 5-year relapse than 23 previously published genetic tests.  When combined with data on measured tumour oxygen levels, the test was even more accurate.

This test would allow doctors to accurately assess the aggressiveness of the cancer and tailor treatment specifically for each patient.  This idea of personalized medicine is becoming a common theme not only for cancer treatment, but also in other fields such as heart disease.  Validation of this new prostate cancer test with higher numbers of patients is underway, but if results continue to be this promising, we may expect it to be implemented worldwide within 3-5 years.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young Canadian men aged 15-29.

A team of researchers from six different countries is coming together to determine why some testicular cancer patients respond well to treatment while others do not.  They hope this collaboration will help develop better treatment strategies and discover mechanisms of relapse.  Among these researchers is Dr. Rob Hamilton, a urologist from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.  Work on this international project is expected to start late this year.

3 out of 4 deaths by suicide are men.

Movember and UBC have teamed up for Man Up Against Suicide (MUAS), one of 5 projects in the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network initiative.  MUAS is a photovoice exhibit featuring photographs and captions from people who have been directly or indirectly affected by male suicide.  There is a “discordant relationship between men’s low rates of diagnosed depression and high rates of suicide” says Dr. John Oliffe, a Professor in the School of nursing at UBC and principal investigator on this project.

MUAS hopes to open a dialogue to reduce the stigma around mental illness among men so that they can get help before it’s too late.  A full length documentary featuring three stories about experiences with men’s depression and suicide is scheduled for release in March 2016.

Moving on a regular basis can reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer by up to 50%, and lower risk of early death by up to 30%.

Can’t grow a moustache (mo sistas, I’m looking at you)?  No problem!  The MOVE campaign is a new fundraising initiative that the Movember Foundation is introducing this year.  This campaign challenges people to do any sort of physical activity every day for 30 days.

Canadians raised over $24.1 million during Movember last year, the most of any participating country!  So be proud of that soup strainer, but only if it means you’re contributing to the cause.

Are you growing out your mo this month or joining MOVE? Tweet us a pic @R2Rnow and tell us why you’re fundraising with #MoScience!  Want to hear more about Movember science? Join our Facebook event!

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Malgosia Pakulska is a freelance science writer, speaker, and blogger. She completed her PhD in Professor Molly Shoichet’s lab studying drug delivery systems for spinal cord regeneration after injury. She is still passionate about research and wants to share that excitement with the public. When she is not in the lab, she is experimenting in the kitchen and blogging about it at Smart Cookie Bakes.