Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Ziggyny reminded me of Movember. (The mustache growing fundraiser for prostate cancer and men's health in November.)  I find it a very strange sort of event because so much of what we are told about prostate cancer is completely backwards.  I am a bit torn because trying to raise awareness of health issues and get them recognized as general topics rather than hushing them up is a fantastic goal.  We as a society benefit hugely when we can comfortably discuss health issues instead of surrounding them with shame and a shroud of lack of information.  We do have to be careful exactly how we go about doing this though.  For example, I recently have seen several advertisements on bus stops and subway walls talking about prostate cancer and advocating that people like me go get tested.  We shouldn't listen to the posters because right now the treatments for prostate cancer are so unreliable in actually making us live longer and so reliable in their hideous side effects that pretty near nobody should be treated.  You should not be tested for ailments we do not have effective treatment for.

Of course I would love to have an effective prostate cancer treatment that doesn't leave huge numbers of people impotent or with serious urinary problems.  Research is definitely a good prospect since this is a widespread disease with no effective cure.  I won't be growing a mustache for Movember (though I will have facial hair as usual) since I generally refuse to take part in charity that pretty much revolves around me trying to wheedle money out of my friends.  If they want to donate to charities I heartily encourage it (Doctors Without Borders or the World Food Program are my favourites currently) but I don't like using a random event to try to pry money out of them.

Overall the Movember site is good and really covers a broad range of useful topics but they seem to avoid laying out the uncomfortable facts about prostate cancer treatment - probably because you aren't going to encourage trips to the doctor and screening if you tell people how bad the treatment really is.  "So, want to find out if you have a disease that has a treatment that regularly causes impotence?  No?"  That said, the general goals of education, positive lifestyle alterations and demystification are excellent.  Walking around barefoot got me into lots of interesting conversations where I was able to teach people all kinds of things that would normally never come up; mustaches in November would serve the same purpose it would seem.

So yes, eat better, go to the doctor and be tested for things when you need to and be open and honest about health concerns.  Just don't worry about prostate cancer, as it will either kill you or not and there isn't much to be done about it at the moment.

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