A N.J. man’s 17-inch beard won the top prize at the World Beard & Moustache Championships in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany this past weekend. Although he surely started growing the beard long before November began, his victory comes just in time for Movember — or No-Shave November, if you will — a month-long campaign that encourages men to grow their moustaches and beards to raise cancer awareness.

Jeff Langum, 39, won in the “Full Beard Natural” category, which measures not only length of the beard but also its roundness, described by some as a “scraggly rising sun.” “That’s the unique part,” wife Oana Langum told USA Today. “Most beards grow long and not as much on the sides, but his sides stay pretty puffy, and when he puffs them out they get … pretty puffy.”

Langum has been growing his beard for two years and one month. He was inspired to grow the extra hair after watching the IFC TV show “Whisker Wars” and wondering what kind of beard he could grow. “There was no goal originally,” he told Philadelphia Magazine. “I was just curious about what kind of beard would emerge from my facial pores. It grew in fluffy and took a very unique shape — wide on the sides instead of straight down.”

Langum’s win comes barely a week after winning “Best in Show” at the National Beard Championship in New Orleans. And there’s more than just a trophy that he’s won — he’s gotten some sponsorship and modeling deals in the works, and hopes his recognition can also get him some acting gigs.

The Beginning of Movember

The competition also kicked off the month-long campaign, No-Shave November, which encourages men to grow their facial hair for cancer awareness. “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free,” the website says.

The campaign, which women can also become involved in — by “letting those legs get mangly” — promotes awareness of a range of men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. Prostate cancer affects about 240,000 men, while testicular cancer affects another 8,000 men each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Growing long moustaches and beards allows people to initiate conversation and word of the campaign to spread.

Its primary purpose is to ensure that men are aware of the health risks they face — having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles one’s risk for the disease, for example — while also promoting preventative actions, such as performing a testicular self-examination.

A Healthy Beard is Healthy For You

Besides being aware of potential health risks, a beard offers some year-round health benefits as well. Beards provide a barrier between the skin and the ultraviolet (UV) rays coming from the sun. A June study found that they blocked up to 90 percent of the harmful UV rays, thereby aiding in skin cancer prevention. Moreover, growing a beard can help prevent the bacterial infections spawned by shaving too close, Dr. Martin Wade, a consultant dermatologist at the London Skin and Hair Clinic, told the Daily Mail. These infections include folliculitis, an itchy and sometimes painful infection, characterized by white-headed pimples around one or more hair follicles, according to Mayo Clinic.

Still, it’s important to maintain a beard as much as possible, according to Dr. Bram Bons, a physician with HealthExpress.co.uk., who told The Guardian that improper care can lead to pubic lice and trapped bacteria that comes from food. Washing it daily, using conditioner, and applying beard oil to keep it moisturized is imperative, he said.

Whether the beard is short- or long-term, No-Shave November works. A survey of more than 1,200 participants found that 67 percent had recommended that a person go see a doctor as a result of the campaign, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, another 43 percent reported that they had become more aware of the risks they face.