MedicalMythMonday: Does Gum Take 7 Years to Digest?
MedicalMythMonday: Does Chewing Gum Take 7 Years to Digest?
MedicalMythMonday investigates common myths about the human body and determines if they are true or false. Today, we answer the question: Does swallowing chewing gum stay in your stomach for seven years?
Answer: No. Although gum cannot be digested by stomach acids like average food, the gum will simply move through your digestive tract. This process takes a couple of hours, not several years.
Gum is made of artificial sweeteners, flavoring, softeners and a US Food and Drug Administration approved substance called butyl rubber. Butyl rubber is the same rubber used to make inner tubes, hence why your digestive system can’t break it down. Ideally, you should not swallow gum but if you do, it will pass through in a matter of hours or days at most.
The origin of the myth is unclear but every now and then, a story shows up where an individual experiences constipation after swallowing gum. When these stories appear, it’s important to point out that these are generally kids who have ingested several pieces of gum a day over a course of weeks, months, or years that lead to a blockage. So that single piece of gum you swallowed won’t cause much disruption, but if you continued the habit habitually, then there may be some cause for concern.