Sodas Lowering Sperm Count?
Q. What's this I hear about the soda, Mountain Dew, lowering sperm count and protecting against pregnancy? Supposedly, the yellow dye is the active ingredient. Can this be true?
I thought I had heard everything, but this one is a beauty. Mountain Dew as a contraceptive? I don't think so. But your question was so intriguing that I did some digging and found that this crazy rumor about Mountain Dew has been wafting around the country for a couple of years -- it even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal recently. No one seems to know how the rumor started, but it does have some interesting permutations. One version holds that drinking more than 24 ounces of Mountain Dew daily lowers sperm count. This apparently has some teenaged boys worrying about whether they'll be able to father children when they're ready. Some teenage girls have bought into the rumor, too -- and erroneously believe if their boyfriends guzzle Mountain Dew before sex, they are protected against an unwanted pregnancy.
For the record, I know of no evidence that Mountain Dew affects sperm count or offers any protection against pregnancy -- no matter who drinks it.
That said, I do want to point out that Mountain Dew isn't the healthiest drink for teens or anyone else. It is loaded with sugar, and contains even more caffeine than most colas. Worse, its distinctive color comes from Yellow No. 5 or tartrazine. While tartrazine certainly won't lower sperm count, it can cause allergies and hyperactivity in children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 Americans are sensitive to tartrazine and suffer reactions such as swelling, asthma, or contact dermatitis. The dye is in hundreds of products, including drugs, cake mixes, lemon and lime beverages, cheese dishes, and "fruit"-flavored candies.
I see no use for artificial dyes in food. You don't use them when you cook at home, so why would you need them in the goods you buy? I suggest going through your pantry and throwing out anything containing artificial color. The product labels will contain the words "certified color," "artificial color," or something specific like "Yellow No. 5" or "FD&C (food, drug, and cosmetic) No. something."
Many dyes once considered safe have since been found to be carcinogenic. They may also weaken our immune systems and speed the aging process. Even though artificial dyes must be approved by the FDA (and similar agencies in other countries), there's no agreement from country to country as to which ones are safe