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Grow a beard in support of men’s health this Movember - 11/1/2016

Men with beards aren’t as scary as some might think. But prostate cancer can be.

So, for all you men out there — grow some facial hair during the month of November, also known as Movember — and get to your doctor for a prostate screening test. It could save your life.

Greg Schoenwolf, president of the Salty Saints Social Club and Facial Hair Society in Salt Lake City, said his goal is to break the stigma some people have regarding men with facial hair —– but he is doing it with a charitable twist.

“A lot of people think bearded men are gruff, mean and scary, but that’s not necessarily true. We want to make a difference in the community, so we go to a lot of charitable events and hold fundraisers for good causes out there,” he said.

Schoenwolf, whose beard goes all the way down to his belly button, said Movember is pretty much year-round for him and the members of the club.

During Movember, men grow beards and mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health, particularly prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is usually a silent disease in its early stages, said Bradford Stevenson, a urologist at Ogden Clinic. That’s why it’s vital for men to be screened for the disease.

“If you wait until you have symptoms, it’s most likely too late. The cat’s out of the bag,” Stevenson said. “But if you find it in the early stages where it is still confined to the prostate, it can be cured.”

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men, just behind skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. However, because of screening tests, more than 2 million men across the country are prostate cancer survivors.

“If there’s a family history, men should begin getting the PSA, or Prostate Specific Antigen, test at age 40,” Stevenson said. “Otherwise they should start getting it at age 50 and repeat it every year. It’s a simple blood test that could save your life.”

Stevenson said a normal PSA test is between 0 and 4. Numbers higher than that can be a cause for concern. However, every man has his own normal range. Some can be higher, others lower. That’s why it’s important for consistent testing, so the physician can see if the numbers continue to rise or fall.

Schoenwolf said he hopes Movember will bring more awareness to the importance of men’s health, and he invites anyone interested to join the Salty Saints Club.

“We wanted to make a big difference in the community and become very involved, so in 2013, we started this nonprofit charity group,” he said. “Our biggest fundraiser is held at Snowbird’s Oktoberfest where money is raised for Wasatch Adaptive Sports, but during November, or Movember, we will be raising money for prostate cancer and bringing more awareness to the disease. This year, we’re going to a Movember competition in Arizona.”

Schoenwolf said men aren’t the only members of the club. Several wives and girlfriends are also heavily involved on the charitable end.

“It’s a wonderful way for people to learn about the beard community,” he said. “We also help them get through the itchy stages of the beard and support them throughout the month or however long they want to grow their beard or mustache.”

There are so many different kinds of beards, from closely shaven business-like beards to those that reach a “wizard” type length.

“The bottom line is for men to wear a great beard and for those who don’t have a beard or want a beard, to support someone who has a great beard,” he said. “Our name is the Salty Saints because, we’re all a little salty and like to go out and have a good time, but we’re also all about charity and making a difference, so hopefully that makes us saints too.”

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