Hong Kong men end moustache campaign for prostate cancer

Who says East Asian men can't sprout facial hair? They did for cancer campaign

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 3:28am

Hongkongers have defied a myth that East Asian men can't grow much facial hair - and all for a good cause, raising awareness of prostate cancer in a month-long campaign.

Friday marked the end of the global fund-raising drive known as Movember, a portmanteau of moustache and November. By yesterday, the 1,810 registered participants in the city had raised about HK$3.5 million by keeping a hirsute look.

The sum raised puts Hong Kong in 10th place among 21 participating countries and regions - but the city collected the most funds per person.

Organisers will accept donations until the end of the year. "I've got to say the myth is not true; we've seen some great Asian moustaches," said Greg Rafferty, chief of Movember Asia.

A case in point is rugby player Salom Yiu Kam-shing, 24. "He decided he really wanted to support the cause, but he didn't think he could do it," Rafferty said. "But now he's grown so attached to his moustache."

Movember, which originated in 2003 in Australia with 30 men, was held for the first time in Asia - in Hong Kong and Singapore. This year, it attracted one million participants worldwide.

By yesterday, HK$848 million had been raised globally. Participants ended Movember by shaving off their moustaches and revelling in a "Mo Party".

The men began with a cleanly shaved face on the first day of November and groomed a bristly upper lip until the end of the month, while urging other men to go for prostate cancer checks.

Rafferty advises men who have a family history of the illness to go for regular check-ups after 40. Those without such a family history should do so after 50.

"Men traditionally have felt bulletproof, thinking that nothing will happen to them," he said. "They take it as a badge of honour when they haven't been to a doctor in 20 years, when that's not necessarily a good thing."

Women have been heavily supportive of the cause. "We often hear from females who support Movember that they've been trying to get their partner, dad or uncle to talk about their health, and this is their window."

Nearly seven in 10 men who responded to a Health Post survey do not get annual checks, and only 7 per cent exercise at least half an hour a day. Physical inactivity is a risk for prostate cancer.