Facial hair for a good cause

FRESNO, Calif.

Men all over the world are sporting moustaches to fight prostate cancer, and now the movement is really growing.

The days when Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, and Action News reporter Gene Haagenson popularized moustaches are long gone.

But this month, hairy lips are having a rebirth.

An attorney, a college professor, and an entire team of emergency room nurses are among hundreds in the Valley now sporting top shelf facial hair -- not for fashion, but for a cause.

"We thought what better and creepier way to bring awareness for men's health and men's issues than to grow moustaches -- since it's not en vogue any more -- and have people ask us questions," said Mark Brown, who leads a team of ER nurses at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno.

Brown leads a team of 25 nurses who signed up for the Movember movement.

It's an international effort to raise awareness and funding to fight prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men. One out of every six American men will develop prostate cancer, but most of them don't go see doctors to get screened, so 40,000 men die from it every year.

A lot of participants post their progression from clean-shaven to full mustache on the Movember website.

The site tracks their fundraising efforts, but whether full, or thin, or wraparound, the moustaches also prompt questions even from strangers at the gym.

"It's actually a nice icebreaker to be able to talk to these gentlemen who are probably in their 60s or 70s, they're at the highest category for risk," Brown said.

Last year, more than 60,000 people joined Movember and raised $7.5 million.

This year, organizers believe it's even bigger.

"It really is something that's catching on and it is causing people to be aware of prostate cancer," said attorney Charles Magill.

Not all of the attention is good, of course.

Most of the men say their wives are not fans of the face furniture, and as the month wears on, they've become eager to grab a razor.

"The likelihood is, come Dec. 1, I will be removing the moustache completely and going back to looking like a normal person," said Ed Stewart, a professor at Fresno Pacific and San Joaquin Valley College.

A simple shave might erase evidence of the moustaches, but the imprints could save a life.

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