Does It Really Take the Human Body Seven Years to Digest a Piece of Chewing Gum

If you, like most people, have ever swallowed a piece of chewing gum, you may have felt the dread of knowing that that piece of gum would stay in your system for seven years.  I have good news for you!  That gum did not actually stick around your body for seven years.  It probably didn’t even stay inside you longer than a few days before your body expelled it.

It’s uncertain how this rumor actually began but because gum is sticky and you can chew on a piece of gum for hours without it getting smaller or broken down, it’s not that hard to believe that it could get stuck somewhere in your digestive tract.  Doctors, however have confirmed that taking seven years to digest chewing gum is a myth.  While swallowing excessive amounts of chewing gum may lead to digestive problems, the occasional piece is not likely to cause any trouble.  The body is able to break down some ingredients of chewing gum, such as the sweeteners but the majority of it is indigestible and thus passes through the digestive system pretty much intact.  This process is the same for chewing gum as it is for other indigestible materials, such as fiber.  There have been rare cases where chewing gum in the digestive system has adhered to other foreign bodies, such as sunflower seed shells or coins, resulting in a larger mass that blocked part of the digestive tract.

In these cases, the mass has to be removed since the body becomes unable to expel it naturally.  It is quite rare for this to happen though under normal circumstances.  As unlikely as these exceptional cases may be, while it is not dangerous to swallow chewing gum, it is certainly not encouraged and should be avoided.  Next time you accidentally swallow some gum, there is no need to panic, but don’t start swallowing gum as a part of your daily routine.

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