There are a lot of good reasons to let your facial hair grow, including killing it with the ladies, smoking your competition at work, and starting an authentic ZZ Top cover band. But we'll get to those in a second. For now, all you have to know is that letting your whiskers breathe can help fight one of the most common--and deadly--forms of cancer among men.
Just a few weeks after he completed a grueling 100-mile swim program, 40-year-old marketing executive Art Wagner visited his doctor for a routine checkup and received some unexpected news: He had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. "I was stunned," Wagner recalls. "Like most guys, I thought I was bulletproof. But I was wrong."
Fortunately, Wagner has been cancer free for almost two years now, but he started the organization Septembeard in order to help advance the fight against the disease that took his father's life.
Last year, Septembeard signed up more than 3,000 men who together helped raise roughly $140,000 for prostate cancer research, Wagner says. And the rules are simple. You don't have to run a 10k or bike 100 miles. You just have to grow a beard--any beard. "Grow a soul patch, a goatee, some scruff--whatever you want," he says. (Need some inspiration? Check out The Best and Worst Celebrity Beards.)
"People will come up and ask you about your beard, and that's a great way to start a conversation about donating to prostate cancer research," Wagner says. All of the money you raise will go to one of the nation's six leading cancer research institutes. And throughout the month, you'll be able to check how you or your team stacks up against other top beard-growers in America. Admit it: You know it would be sweet to have the fuzziest face of them all.
While more men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year than women are diagnosed with breast cancer, prostate cancer research receives roughly half the funding, Wagner says. "I was very lucky, but a lot of guys out there aren't so fortunate." Roughly 28,000 men die of prostate cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society, and your gnarly facial hair could go a long way toward slashing that number to pieces.
Saving lives not enough for you? Consider this: Researchers at Northumbria University asked 70 women to rate men's attractiveness based on a series of photographs, and found that stubble was perceived as more sexually attractive than a clean-shaven look. What's more, the same Northumbria study found that men perceive guys who sport beards as more intimidating, more assertive, and more powerful. (It's true--learn How Your Facial Hair Can Earn You a Promotion.)
So round up your buddies, ditch the razors, and prepare for the hairiest month of your life. On your mark, get set, grow!
More from MSN Healthy Living:
- The Best Cities for Men 2012
- 5 Cancers that Strike Men -- and the Warning Signs
- The Worst Jobs For Men
- Bing: How to Prevent Prostate Cancer
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