The hairy facts about men's health

Ask someone to describe the quintessential Aussie bloke and the response is likely to include adjectives like ‘rugged’, ‘hardy’ and ‘tough’. 

Truth is, though, Australian men aren’t as healthy as they should be – they die an average of four years younger than women, one in two will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85 and an average of six take their own life each day.

Since 2003, the Movember Foundation has thrown the spotlight on men’s health not only in November with its well-known moustache campaign, but year-round by raising funds to facilitate research and support programs to help men live happier, healthier and longer lives.

To date, the foundation has helped fund 1200 men’s health projects across 21 countries focusing on mental health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer.

Australian rock legend Kirk Pengilly, founding member of Australian rock band INXS, is helping spread the message about men’s health since his diagnosis with prostate cancer in 2015. The Movember

Ambassador, who is now cancer-free, shared his views on beating cancer and how to grow a mo.

How has having prostate cancer changed your outlook on life?

It certainly was a wake-up call. The fact that I had no physical symptoms hit home – we don’t know what is going on inside our bodies. Had I not been getting annual blood-tests for everything you can, including my PSA, I wouldn’t have known. I guess the obvious change for me is that I’m more determined to do things and get things done, because I’m acutely aware that life is finite. Once you have had cancer and been lucky enough to survive it, you naturally appreciate life way more.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

No, not really. After getting several professional opinions, the only option was to remove my prostate. The most difficult thing was that I have always used alternative medicine – I’ve had a naturopath as my main health practitioner for 30 years. Having to take antibiotics, which I hadn’t taken in over 20 years, went against my health belief system. Thankfully, the outcome was good. 

What is your advice to men who are worried about the prospect of prostate cancer?

It is important to get regular health checks, especially when you approach 50. The PSA blood test, as well as the obvious physical signs that there could be something wrong, should not be ignored. Like most diseases, early intervention is key. The stats show that globally, 300,000 men die of prostate cancer every year. It is the second most common cancer in men, so get yourself checked out.

What are your top tips for men trying to grow a moustache?

Well, not everyone can pull it off. You must be patient and let it grow wild until it’s a decent length to start to shape or “train” it. A good beard trimmer is important for shaping and finding one that cuts close is hard. It’s not like you can go and test-drive trimmers like a car. You need a magnified mirror so you can get in close when trimming/shaving. I’ve left so many of my “tic-on” mirrors in hotel bathrooms it’s not funny.

Three ways to support Movember during November:

  1. Grow a mo and save a bro.
  2. Get active and raise funds for men’s health while getting fit.
  3. Host or attend a Movember event.