"Would you be content to be held close and treated tenderly and forget about 'the act'?" With that one question, Ann Landers, the syndicated columnist who offers advice daily to readers in some 1,100 daily newspapers, wrote a new chapter in the field of human sexuality.

Some 90,000 women answered, and more than 60,000 of them said they prefered cuddling to "the act." Although Landers' poll was not scientific, follow-up polls, including two by the Health section, suggested that her findings were on target. In Washington, more than half of women and some 40 percent of men were willing to trade "the act" for cuddling and tender treatment, according to a public opinion telephone survey by The Washington Post.

Most recently, Landers achieved another first: this time for becoming the first journalist to win a prestigious Albert Lasker award for public service. The Lasker award traditionally honors scientists for their research contributions.

Landers was honored for urging her readers to pressure Congress for approval of millions of dollars for cancer research and for referring them to a wide variety of health care agencies. Her $15,000 prize money, she said, is being donated to the Heredity Disease Foundation.