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Chewing Gum Myth

October 13, 2016

Does it really take seven years to digest chewing gum?



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

Listener Michelle Simms of Alexandria, Virginia says her parents warned her never to swallow chewing gum because 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.

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 to the other, even things that aren’t digestible.


Carroll says gum will normally pass through the system in about 24 hours. However, he warns that swallowing very large pieces of gum could cause an emergency blockage. And if you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-WHY-ISIT. Thmat’s 1-800-949-4748. If we answer your question on the show, we’ll send you a Science Update mug! I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.