DEAR ABBY: I am a Planned Parenthood speaker with a serious problem. I am writing in the hope that you can help me dispel the myth that Mountain Dew soft drinks prevent pregnancy. I have been working to dispel this myth for about two years -- and it seems I'm paddling upstream.
When I first realized that many students from fifth grade through college fervently believe that drinking Mountain Dew reduces the sperm count, I prayed that this was a local issue. I now know that this myth has circulated and is believed nationwide.
During my years as a volunteer with Planned Parenthood, I have encountered several myths, but none as potentially dangerous or difficult to dispel as the myth associated with this popular soft drink. Young people continue to obtain information largely from their peers -- a very unreliable source.
You have often reminded your readers about birth-control education presented by Planned Parenthood. Please take this opportunity to issue that reminder again and to alert parents and teens that Mountain Dew, while tasty, does not prevent pregnancy. -- MARJORIE SALTZMAN, PORTLAND, ORE.
DEAR MARJORIE: Your letter is a first! Years ago a rumor circulated that douching with Coca-Cola after sex would prevent pregnancy. That, too, was a myth -- as many gullible "premature parents" discovered to their dismay.
Let me go on record as stating that Mountain Dew -- although a refreshing and enjoyable beverage -- is NOT A CONTRACEPTIVE. It may give the drinker a "buzz" because of its sugar and caffeine content, but it will do NOTHING to lower the sperm count. And to allege that it will is incorrect and irresponsible.
Young adults with computer access can find reliable information regarding reproductive health issues by visiting www.teenwire.com, a 24-hour, fully confidential Web site sponsored by Planned Parenthood. There they can find answers to questions they may feel uncomfortable asking parents, doctors -- or even their peers. It includes a FAQs (frequently asked questions) section and a "Yikes!" page for teens with urgent issues.
Now I have a riddle for you: What do you call young men who drink Mountain Dew because they think it's a contraceptive?
Answer: (All together now) FATHERS!
DEAR ABBY: In a reply to a recent letter about the devastating effects of smoking, you pledge to continue your campaign to discourage young people from starting to smoke.
Here's some help: Some 50 years ago, my scoutmaster demonstrated what happens when you blow smoke through a white handkerchief. I'll never forget the ugly brown stain from just one strong puff.
If everyone who comes in contact with young people performed this demonstration, perhaps some of them would think twice before beginning or continuing to smoke. -- JOHN F. GLASS, STUDIO CITY, CALIF.
DEAR JOHN: Thanks for the help. I remember seeing a similar demonstration many years ago. It was targeted at young people who had not yet started to smoke, and one look was a convincing deterrent because of the amount of tar that appeared on the handkerchief. It took no imagination to see what smoking does to the bronchial tubes and lungs.
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