Daniel Falkman, a social studies teacher and Key Club adviser...

Daniel Falkman, a social studies teacher and Key Club adviser at East Islip High School, raised awareness and more than $365 for men's health issues by growing a mustache for the national Movember Foundation. On Dec. 1, a group of students and faculty gathered in East Islip's auditorium after school to watch Falkman shave off his 'stache. (December 1, 2011) Credit: Handout

Noticed a proliferation of nascent facial shrubbery at work this month? That's because it's still mid-Movember, a portmanteau of mustache and November.

The international effort encourages men to grow mustaches to raise awareness of -- and money for -- men's health issues, including prostate and testicular cancers.

Men register at us.movember.com and commit to growing a 'stache for November. So far, 875,000 people have registered to support this year's campaign, which has raised $34 million. Fundraising and end-of-month celebrations, such as galas and 5k races, are also part of the undertaking.

"It takes the stigma away from men getting help," said Mark Hedstrom, the U.S. director for Movember, who is growing a mustache.

Movember is several years old, with a governing board of former executives and a separate science panel of doctors and scientists.

For some, Movember is a reminder of the pink-draped Breast Cancer Awareness Month initiatives in October. But is Movember a marketing gimmick or a serious effort to change the way men think about health?

Hedstrom said men generally seem less inclined to seek medical attention unless they are ill. Growing up, "they are told to put a Band-Aid on it and keep moving," he added.

Dr. Michael L. Grossbard, chief of hematology-oncology at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center and Beth Israel Medical Center, said men normally don't talk to each other, or anyone else, about health.

"The conversation has to start somewhere," said Grossbard, who added that he is "not cynical" about Movember being a marketing ploy. "Usually, people don't come to see me until they've had symptoms for months and months."

Rob McMillen, a master barber at the Blind Barber in the East Village, is growing a mustache for Movember because he thinks the initiative is an opportunity for men to talk about trends and open up about serious issues.

"I see guys paying attention not only to the physical aesthetic, but to their health as well," he said.

So if you've wanted to channel your inner Tom Selleck or Salvador Dali, now's your chance.

Latest video

DON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access