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With All Dew Respect


A rather shocking bit of misinformation has captured the minds of high school and college students of late: the notion that the popular American soft drink Mountain Dew can be used as a contraceptive.

It is widely believed that drinking Mountain Dew drastically lowers the sperm count in males. While some fear this will cause impotency, others apparently view it as a birth control panacea.

Lest you think I'm joking, a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that during the past few weeks this very rumor "has boomeranged across the country from Oregon to Washington, D.C., and from Texas to Montana." Its popularity has health care officials worried and PepsiCo, Mountain Dew's manufacturer, perplexed.

"This is an urban myth," says Jonathon Harris, a public affairs manager for the company. In the Variants include the belief that "Mountain Dew causes young males' testicles to shrink..."

Wall Street Journal he likened it to stories about seeing Elvis at the convenience store ??e., not merely false, but "absurd, unfounded, and ridiculous."

Rumormongers attribute the beverage's alleged spermicidal properties to its high caffeine content (55 milligrams per 12 oz. can versus 37.2 milligrams in Pepsi and 45.6 milligrams in Coke) and/or the coloring agent Yellow Dye No. 5, but there's nothing in the scientific literature to support either claim. The FDA determined long ago that Yellow Dye No. 5 poses no health threats whatsoever to non-allergic people. As for caffeine, there's evidence to indicate that it actually increases the motility and effectiveness of sperm cells.

Though we're apparently seeing it at its peak of popularity, the rumor goes back at least three years. Variants include the belief that "Mountain Dew causes young males' testicles to shrink" or that "Mountain Dew causes shrinkage of penis size." Where these ideas came from is unclear, but they resemble tales going even further back (at least 10 years) in the African-American community about companies allegedly owned by the Ku Klux Klan putting sterility-causing ingredients in foods and beverages popular among blacks e.g., see KKKlore, 1996 Usenet posting in alt.folklore.urban).

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