Show Details

Chewing Gum Myth

December 3, 2009

A listener asks: If you accidentally swallow chewing gum, does it really take years to go through your system?


Debunking a sticky myth…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s time for another episode of our new series, Reality Check, where we investigate paranormal claims, weird phenomena and science folklore. Michelle Simms of Alexandria, Virginia says her parents warned her never to swallow her chewing gum because they said it wouldn’t be digested for seven years. We asked Dr. Aaron Carroll, a health services researcher at the Indiana University School of Medicine, if this is true.

DR. AARON CARROLL (Indiana University School of Medicine):
There’s no truth to the idea that swallowed gum will stay in your stomach for seven years. The body is incredibly good at getting things from one end of the body to the other, even things that aren’t digestible.

He says gum isn’t digestible but will normally pass through the system in about 24 hours. But he warns that swallowing very large pieces of gum could cause an emergency blockage. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.