There has been a lot of hoopla over this Movember, no shave November thing and I just wanted to let you know that the G man and I are embracing it fully. Behind all the scraggly beards and mustaches is a cause that I think we can all get behind.

According to the No Shave November website, the goal of the campaign is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, something that many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. The tradition had been there for years, but the children of Matthew Hill, who passed away from colon cancer back in November 2007, took it a step farther by using the cause to raise money for charity.

The Movember Foundation was started in Australia back in 2003 by Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, who were having a beer and couldn’t understand why the mustache ever went out of style. Unlike No Shave November, Movember is a global initiative that has spread to 21 countries.

Mustache or Beard?

While the Movember Foundation is all about the mustache, No Shave November asks men to participate by “growing a beard, cultivating a mustache, letting those legs go natural, and skipping that waxing appointment.” For the most part, No Shave November is more laissez-faire when it comes to participation rules. “Grooming and trimming are perfectly acceptable” for people with a strict dress code at work, and participants coming into November with a few whiskers are more than welcome.

Movember, on the other hand, is a little stricter with its no shave rules. Men are asked to come into November clean shaven and focus their growing and grooming on their mustache for the next 30 days. Movember enthusiasts call mustaches “nature’s billboard.” When Garone and Slattery started the movement it was simply to bring back the stache as a look. However, when the men realized how much of a conversation starter their soup strainer was, they decided to use it to start meaningful conversations.

Prostate Cancer Or All Men’s Health Issues

Movember focuses its charitable contributions on four particular Men’s Health issues: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity. Prostate and testicular cancer are considered the two most common cancers among men, while around one in four adults suffers from a mental health issue and over half of men do not meet federal guidelines for physical activity. Since its inception in 2003, the Movember Foundation has raised around $650 million that has helped fund more than 1,000 programs focusing on these four issues that affect men everywhere.

No Shave November also focuses its efforts on benefiting cancer research, but they open it up to all cancers as opposed to just prostate and testicular. This web-based, non-profit organization, which has partnered with the American Cancer Society, Prevent Cancer Foundation, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, donates no less than 80 percent of the donations it receives to participating charities. Participants are asked to donate the money they would otherwise spend on grooming, like razors and trips to the barber shop.

No matter what the cause and no matter what grows on your face, though, everyone should do their part in standing up for Men’s Health Awareness this November. Men around the world die, on average, six years earlier than women. The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 510,000 men die each year due to suicide and the number of prostate cancer diagnoses worldwide is expected to double to 1.7 million by 2030. If you can wear pink in October, then you should be able to handle a conversation about men’s health.